Coast Guard seeking assistance to ID prank caller

NEW BERN, N.C. – The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help to identify individuals responsible for recent false distress calls in North Carolina.

Sector North Carolina watchstanders overheard two men talking on their marine VHF radios about making false distress calls to the Coast Guard. One of the men admitted to previously making a false distress call to the Coast Guard.

False distress calls limit the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to actual emergencies. They also unnecessarily endanger the lives of responders and waste thousands of tax payer dollars annually.

Making a false distress call is a felony punishable by law. The maximum penalty for making a false distress call is five to ten years in prison, a $5,000 civil fine, a $250,000 criminal fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard.

In March 2010, three Raleigh natives were charged and found guilty of making false distress calls. Jeremy C. Fisher, 25, of Holly Ridge, N.C., pled guilty to conspiring to make false distress messages, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Co-defendants William H. Yates, 22, of Sneads Ferry, N.C., and Steven G. Medina, 21, of Onslow County, each pled guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false distress messages, in violation of Title 14, United States Code, Section 88(c). Each defendant will pay restitution to the Coast Guard for all search and rescue costs associated with the various hoax calls attributable to them individually. Fisher agreed to pay $234,111; Medina agreed to pay $233.48 and Yates agreed to pay $506.80.

To listen to the audio (edited to censor F-word) go here. If anyone can identify a voice in the audio clip, they should contact the Coast Guard at 252-247-4571.

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