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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Man Sentenced to Prison for False Distress Call and Threats

NORFOLK, Va. – A Newport News man was sentenced today to 56 months in prison for making a false distress call and threats to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Justin P. Stahmer, 39, was convicted by a federal jury on Nov. 13, 2017. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Stahmer made a false distress call on June 20, 2016, while several miles northeast of Cape Henry. Stahmer used the International Distress Frequency, VHF Channel 16, to call “man overboard,” despite being alone on his boat and knowing no one had fallen in the water. For over 45 minutes the Coast Guard sought more information from Stahmer over the radio and launched a full search for a person in the water, including deploying a 45-foot patrol boat, an 87-foot cutter, and a search and rescue helicopter. Once he was found, Stahmer initially denied making any distress call to the Coast Guard and then indicated he called the Coast Guard because he ran out of gas. As the Coast Guard Boarding Officers inspected Stahmer’s vessel, he became belligerent and angry. Ultimately, the Virginia Marine Resource Commission Police arrived and arrested Stahmer for boating under the influence of alcohol. While being transported back to shore, Stahmer began to kick and threaten one of the Coast Guard Boarding Officers, stating that Stahmer would “take him out” if he ever saw the Boarding Officer again.

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Marty J. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Chesapeake Region, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph L. Kosky and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Gavin prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:16-cr-123.

Joshua Stueve Director of Communications
Updated February 20, 2018