PORTLAND, Maine — A 23-year-old Vinalhaven man will spend a year in federal prison for making fake distress calls last year that prompted a wide-ranging Coast Guard search.
Owen R. Adair, 23, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court by Judge Nancy Torresen for making the false distress calls on Sept. 30, 2014.
In addition to the year in prison, Adair will also serve up to a year of community confinement which is to be spent in a halfway house. He also will be on supervised release for three years.
The judge also ordered Adair to repay the Coast Guard $15,000 for the costs associated with the search that it conducted due to hoax calls.
Adair pleaded guilty to the offense in April.
Adair used a VHF radio to initiate a two-way radio conversation with a Coast Guard radio operator.
“In ensuing transmissions, Adair repeatedly told the Coast Guard operator that he urgently needed assistance because a crewman on his fishing vessel had sustained a serious injury and was bleeding badly,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“In fact, the defendant was not aboard a vessel but was ashore on Vinalhaven Island and was using a VHS radio in his truck,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty II said in the release. “There was no injured person.”
The Coast Guard deployed a search and rescue vessel from Rockland. After a four-hour search, the Coast Guard called off the search and concluded the distress call was a hoax.
The investigation that led to the guilty plea was conducted by the Coast Guard Investigative Service.
The hoax distress call episode was not Adair’s first brush with the law. In January, he was among three people arrested in connection with a methamphetamine making operation on Vinalhaven.
Last year, he was arrested on theft and several other related charges after he allegedly stole a pickup truck from a Thomaston repair shop and drove it to the Winterport fire station.
Also last year, Adair and an accomplice and served jail time after pleading guilty to stealing batteries from a pair of cars on Vinalhaven.