Toledo man charged with making false distress call to U.S. Coast Guard

CLEVELAND – William J. Edwards, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Rear Adm. Peter V. Neffenger, Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District, today announced the filing of a criminal indictment charging Frederico C. Flores, age 21, of Toledo, Ohio, with communicating false distress messages to the United States Coast Guard.

The indictment charges that on about March 12, 2009, Flores issued distress messages to the United States Coast Guard knowing no such emergency existed.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

“We take false distress calls very seriously,” said Edwards. “It diverts valuable resources and time while also wasting a tremendous amount of taxpayers’ money.”

“Hoaxes are a tremendous concern, not only because of the waste of resources, but especially because resources responding to a hoax are not available to respond to an actual person in distress. It could cost somebody more than just money,” said Rear Adm. Neffenger.

The investigating agencies in this case are the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Federal Communication Commission. The case is being handled by Asst. U.S. Attorney Thomas O. Secor who may be reached at 419 259-6376, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Fowles of the Coast Guard.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The burden of proof is always on the government to prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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