FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TUESDAY - September 16, 2008
FALSE EMERGENCY CALL COSTS NEWPORT MAN OVER $45,000
WILMINGTON - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court today United States District Judge James C. Fox sentenced JOE D. MILLS, JR., of Newport, North Carolina, to 60 months’ probation. The Court also imposed restitution in the amount of $45,292.78.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a one-count Criminal Indictment on February 13, 2008 charging false statement. MILLS pled guilty to the charge at his arraignment on May 27, 2008. On September 20, 2007, MILLS used a handheld VHF radio while standing on his front yard to fraudulently report a vessel taking on water to Coast Guard Sector NC. The distress call was recorded and specifically referenced the Coast Guard. According to MILLS, he then turned off his radio and went back into his house. The Coast Guard attempted to call MILLS back, but he did not answer them. The Coast Guard then engaged in a substantial effort totaling $45,000 to search for and rescue the vessel. Local fire and rescue also spent significant resources. The vessel was never found, and the Coast Guard launched an investigation and determined that the distress call was a hoax.
“While this may seem to some to be a harmless prank, this cost a significant amount of resources, both in taxpayer dollars and in man hours lost. We are thankful that these resources were not needed at that time for others that might have had a real emergency but, because of this hoax, were not available,” stated Mr. Holding.
Investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Coast Guard Investigative Services. Assistant United States Attorney David Bragdon served as prosecutor for the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.