That fake wolf of a phone call will cost an Ohio man $489,000 after officials near Cleveland unleashed a massive U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue mission on Lake Erie, a U.S. appeals court ruled, according to Reuters.
Two years ago, the now 21-year-old licensed pilot told authorities he saw what he thought was a distress flare coming up from a boat as he flew over the lake.
And then when Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport asked him to get a closer look, he said he didn’t see boat but did see more flares and fishing boat with four people on it wearingn life jackets and flashing lights.
When a 21-hour search with a 140-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter, three smaller rescue boats, a rescue helicopter and a Canadian CC130 Hercules airplane came up empty, the man finally confessed a month later to making it all up.
He pleaded guilty to making a false distress call and was sentenced to serve three months in jail and pay restitution of $277,000 to the U.S. Coast Guard and $212,000 to the Canadian Armed Forces. His lawyers claimed he wasn’t liable for the Canadian costs and only the coast guard’s direct costs of $118,000, but the appeals court upheld the previous ruling.
So remember folks, when you’re bored and flying your plane, it might seem like a fun(?) idea to pretend someone is in danger, but resist the temptation. It’s expensive and it’s a waste of everyone’s time.