Detroit Resident Sentenced for Distress Call Hoax

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Detroit resident has been convicted and sentenced in federal court for making a false distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard, announced United States Attorney Barbara McQuade and Captain Stephen Torpey, Chief of Incident Management for the Ninth Coast Guard District.

Andre D. Cheatom, 19 years old, was sentenced to 18 months incarceration, supervised release for three years, a special assessment of $100, and ordered to pay $14,302 in restitution for knowingly and willfully causing the Coast Guard to attempt to save lives and property when no help was needed, in violation of Title 14, U.S. Code, section 88(c).

"When members of the Coast Guard respond to a hoax call, they are diverted from people in actual distress," McQuade said. "We take a hard line on these cases because we want to deter people from making hoax calls."

"I am concerned that there are people willing to risk the lives of other boaters who might be in legitimate need of rescue or assistance, as well as needlessly endangering response crews, by knowingly making a false distress call," said Captain Stephen Torpey, Chief of Incident Management for the Ninth Coast Guard District. "This conviction demonstrates the lengths we will go to ensure those who make hoax calls are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Cheatom was sentenced by U.S. District Judge George Steeh after considering factors unique to the case including the defendant’s prior criminal record, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation.

This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary M. Felder, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Fowles of the U.S. Coast Guard. It was investigated by the Coast Guard Investigative Service.

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