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Phony Mayday calls could land San Diego boater in prison

January 26, 2012 |  2:01 pm

A 47-year-old San Diego man has been indicted on four felonies for sending out phony distress calls while on his boat off the coast, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Sean Berry is accused of sending out phony "Mayday" messages to the Coast Guard in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 claiming that his boat, the Timberwolf, was taking on water and in danger of sinking.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of the search.

U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy said that hoax calls "put at risk not only the lives of Coast Guard personnel who respond to such calls by searching the sea by boat and helicopter, often at night, but also the lives of persons in true distress when search-and-rescue resources are distracted."


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego