News and Press Releases


October 18, 2011

Craig C. Sanders, a resident of Detroit, Michigan, was sentenced today in federal court in Port Huron, Michigan to 30 months in prison, followed by 3 years supervised release and was ordered to pay $53,306 in restitution to the United States Coast Guard, on a conviction for knowingly and willfully communicating a false distress message to the U.S. Coast Guard, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Rear Admiral Michael N. Parks.

Information presented to the court at the time of the plea and sentencing established that on or about March 11, 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) received a telephone call from Craig C. Sanders stating words to the effect that , “ boat capsized. I was the only one wearing a PFD (Personal Flotation Device); I made it ashore, my family didn’t.” Sanders also stated that his boat was in Lake Erie and that he could not find his “buddy.” As the Coast Guard attempted to ascertain additional information, Sanders abruptly terminated the call. The Coast Guard initiated a large response, which included search and rescue units from stations in Toledo and Marblehead, Ohio, as well as a helicopter from the Air National Guard Base. The search and rescue efforts continued for approximately eight hours and ultimately revealed the distress call was a hoax. The cost incurred by the USCG for the false distress call was over $53,000.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade stated, “We hope that prosecutions like this one will deter others from making false reports to the Coast Guard so that the Coast Guard can instead focus on real emergencies.”

"Knowingly and willingly making a false distress call diverts resources from actual emergencies, puts other boaters in danger and needlessly risks the lives of our first responders," said Rear Adm. Michael Parks, 9th Coast Guard District commander. "Fake distress calls are no laughing matter. We will pursue hoax callers to the fullest extent of the law."

This case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary M. Felder and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Fowles of the U.S. Coast Guard.


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