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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ormond Beach Resident Paying Restitution To U.S. Coast Guard For Making A False Distress Signal

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Sean C. Moran (Ormond Beach) is paying restitution to the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for making a false distress signal using nautical flares in February 2014 in St. Petersburg.

On November 30, 2014, Moran made his first payment toward the $12,752.35 he must reimburse the USCG for the cost of responding to his false distress signal. As part of a pretrial diversion agreement between Moran and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, and in cooperation with the USCG, Moran agreed to pay the restitution, write a letter of apology, complete 70 hours of community service, and attend a boating safety course. If he does not fulfill the terms of the agreement within a period of 18 months, he may be prosecuted for the offense.

Individuals who make false distress signals may be fined up to $250,000 and serve up to six years in prison.

“Shooting a flare in a non-distress situation is no different than dialing 911 and hanging up. Flares alert the Coast Guard, first responders, and other mariners of a distress situation on the water,” said Lt. Holly Deal, deputy chief of response at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “It’s a call for help. Every time a flare is fired and reported we respond, so we are asking the public to only use flares when there is an actual distress situation. This avoids unnecessary searches and ensures people in real distress get the help they need as quickly as possible.”

This case was investigated by the USCG. It is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Sara C. Sweeney.

Updated January 26, 2015