Fort Myers man gets 3-month sentence for making false distress call from boat
A Fort Myers man was sentenced Wednesday to three months in federal prison for making a false distress call to the Coast Guard last year.
Justin Patrick Obert, 32, will also have to serve three years of supervised release and pay $13,414.78 to the Coast Guard for costs associated with their search and rescue response.
Obert pleaded guilty to the charge on Aug. 21.
According to court documents, on the evening of Sept. 9, 2019, Obert drunkenly discharged two red distress flares from a vessel near Fort Myers Beach, triggering an emergency search and rescue operation by the Coast Guard, Fort Myers Beach Fire Rescue, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Ultimately, an intoxicated Obert was determined to be the person who discharged the emergency flares, which he did when no emergency assistance was actually needed, causing the unnecessary diversion of search and rescue personnel from multiple agencies.
“Hoax calls put the public at risk,” said Capt. Matt Thompson, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg Commander. “Mariners on the water rely and count on Coast Guard assets and personnel to be ready and able to respond when they are in distress. Hoax calls can redirect critical rescue capabilities and put lives at risk in the dangerous maritime domain.”