Coast Guard wants help finding fake 'mayday' caller
Posted October 28, 2014
New Bern, N.C. — Coast Guard officials are asking for the public’s help to identify a man who has made seven fake distress calls in the past two years in the New Bern area.
The agency on Tuesday released two audio recordings (recording 1, recording 2) of a man’s voice, which has been heard on the seven bogus calls from September 2012 to December 2013 and again in September and October 2014. The most recent call was Oct. 16.
With each call, the Coast Guard issued urgent broadcasts and launched response boat and helicopter crews at a total cost of more than $150,000. The amount doesn’t include the expense of local fire departments or Marine Corps crews that assisted.
“When the Coast Guard dispatches vessels and aircraft for false distress broadcasts, it obligates limited resources to unnecessary searches and puts additional costs on the Coast Guard and the taxpayer," Lt. Lane Munroe, command center chief and public affairs officer at Sector North Carolina, said in a statement. "Above all else, it puts the lives of our personnel at risk. We are asking anyone with information about this caller to please come forward."
Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, an $8,000 civil penalty and mandatory reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of the search.
Homer Blackburn of Atlantic Beach was recently sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $288,000 in restitution for making a fake distress call in October 2013.
Two others, Brandon Garner and Charles Dowd Jr., both of Beaufort, were indicted Oct. 14 for alleged hoax calls made in 2013.
Anyone with information is asked to call 910-343-3880.