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Virginia man found guilty of making false distress call

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina conducts a demonstration at Coast Guard Station Chincoteague, Virginia, July 25, 2017.

CORINNE ZILNICKI/U.S. COAST GUARD

By KATE MISHKIN | Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) | Published: November 14, 2017

NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) — A Newport News man was convicted by a federal jury Monday of making a false distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard, officials said.

Justin Stahmer, 39, called the International Distress Frequency to report “man overboard” while he was on Sully Girl, his private boat off Cape Henry on June 20, 2016, court documents state.

Coast Guard officials found he was alone on the boat, and no one was in the water, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia.

The Coast Guard launched a search for a person, which included a 45-foot patrol boat, 87-foot cutter and a search and rescue helicopter, the release stated.

Stahmer then denied making any calls and instead said he had called officials because he ran out of gas, the release said.

When officials investigated the car, Stahmer became distressed and upset, and Virginia Marine Resource Commission Police then arrested him for boating under the influence of alcohol, the release said. On the way back to shore, Stahmer kicked and threatened the Coast Guard Boarding Officers.

He was found guilty Monday of communicating a false distress signal and threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer, according to court documents, and is scheduled to be sentenced February 2018.

©2017 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
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