Local News

Bogus distress signals net man prison sentence

Posted June 11, 2010 12:12 p.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2010 12:36 p.m. EDT

— A Holly Ridge man was sentenced Thursday to a year in federal prison for making prank distress calls to the Coast Guard.

Jeremy C. Fisher, 25, pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to make false distress messages. A judge also ordered him to repay the Coast Guard $234,619 for the search and rescue costs incurred in responding to his hoax calls.

An investigation revealed that Fisher had made at least 22 false distress calls, including some last October in which he said his boat was taking on water and repeatedly called "Mayday." Prosecutors said Fisher was drinking with friends when the calls were made.

Two others convicted for making bogus calls, William H. Yates, 22, of Sneads Ferry, and Steven G. Medina, of Onslow County, are expected to be sentenced in two weeks.

“Hoax phone calls put at risk the lives’ of others that might be in legitimate need of assistance," U.S. Attorney George Holding said in a statement. "We cannot impress upon everyone strongly enough that ‘crying wolf’ can costs lives as well as taxpayer dollars.”