News and Press Releases


June 2, 2011

Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and Rear Adm. Michael N. Parks, Ninth U.S. Coast Guard District Commander today announced that Craig C. Sanders, 32, of Detroit, pleaded guilty for his communicating a false distress message to the Coast Guard before the Honorable Lawrence P. Zatkoff.

Information presented to the court at the time of the plea 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.”

"Hoax calls cost taxpayers a great deal of money and pull our critical resources from actual operations and emergencies," said Rear Adm. Parks. "These charges send a clear message that hoax calls will not be taken lightly and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

A sentencing date has been set for September 6, 2011. The statutory maximum penalty is six years imprisonment; $250,000 fine and is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000; and liable for all costs the Coast Guard incurs as a result of the individual's action.

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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