Virginia Beach man indicted for making false distress signal

NORFOLK, Va. – Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced that a Norfolk federal grand jury has indicted Larry L. Deffenbaugh, 58, formerly of Virginia Beach, Va., Friday, for making a false distress signal to the United States Coast Guard.

According to the indictment, Deffenbaugh, also known as “Mike Meyers,” was boating on the Chesapeake Bay on May 10, 2009 with his brother.

The indictment reads, “At some point, Deffenbaugh caused his brother to believe that he had fallen from the boat and into the bay, thereby causing Deffenbaugh’s brother to contact Coast Guard authorities seeking help.” As a result of the allegedly false distress call, the Coast Guard deployed resources in an effort to save Deffenbaugh’s life, though, according to the indictment, he was not in any peril. Despite an extensive search, the Coast Guard search team could find no trace of Deffenbaugh.

“The Coast Guard and Sector Hampton Roads regard every distress call as an emergency,” said Capt. John Little, deputy sector commander, Sector Hampton Roads. “Responding to a hoax call could compromise our ability to respond to legitimate cases, therefore putting lives at risk.”

Deffenbaugh was scheduled to appear in Calvert County Maryland on a probation violation on May 12, 2009. Deffenbaugh failed to appear. In February 2010, Deffenbaugh’s story was broadcast on the television program, “America’s Most Wanted.” Based upon a viewer’s tip, Deffenbaugh was located in Baytown, Texas, living under the assumed name, “Mike Meyers.” Deffenbaugh was arrested and extradited to Maryland where he is currently in custody awaiting his probation violation hearing.

The case is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard Investigative Service, Chesapeake Region.

Assistant United States Attorney Joseph L. Kosky is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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