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Continuing Crackdown

Jan 1, 2003

CONTINUING CRACKDOWN on hoax distress calls. A 41-year-old Michigan man who transmitted a false "mayday" call to the U.S. Coast Guard has been convicted of a felony in federal court, the third person to be convicted of similar crimes in the last year or so.

The hoax caller, John Emil of New Baltimore, Mich., was found guilty of communicating false distress signals last May when he transmitted radio messages to the Coast Guard claiming his boat was sinking. He is due to be sentenced in July. In an earlier civil action on the same case, the FCC fined Emil $8,000 for violations of federal communications laws.

In another recent case, a New Bedford, Mass., man was convicted of making a false distress call and sentenced to six months in jail and given a $5,000 fine. And last year, a Fairfax, Va., man pleaded guilty to sending a false distress call in 1992. He was fined $50,000 and deprived of all radio-licensing privileges for life.