Price of false “mayday”: One year in prison
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A man who broadcast a false “mayday” signal that his
boat was going down, prompting the Coast Guard to dispatch search-and-rescue
crews, was sentenced Tuesday to a year and a day in federal prison.
Sean M. Berry, 47, pleaded guilty in February to communicating a false
distress message to the Coast Guard.
“Broadcasting false distress signals to the Coast Guard is not a joke
… it is a felony,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “False distress calls
put at risk not only the lives of Coast Guard personnel who respond to such
calls by searching the seas by boat and helicopter, often at night, but also
the lives of persons in true distress, when search-and-rescue resources are
distracted from true emergencies by needless hoaxes.”
Berry admitted that he transmitted “emergency, emergency, emergency,
mayday, mayday, mayday” on the maritime international distress and calling
frequency on or about Nov. 12, 2010.
Berry claimed there were three people aboard his vessel, including a
child, and that the boat was “going down” and the occupants were “jumping in
The Coast Guard in San Diego responded to the distress call by launching
a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft that searched for Berry's boat for more than
Berry admitted that there was no vessel in distress and that he made the
transmissions from his home near National City.
The defendant further conceded that, on or about Jan. 1, 2011, he
transmitted “mayday, mayday, mayday” on the same maritime international
distress channel from his home when there was no vessel in distress.