Man must pay back $288k for fake boat distress call

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A man who made a fake “mayday” call to the Coast Guard last year is heading to prison.

A federal judge today sentenced Homer Lewis Blackburn of Atlantic Beach to 18 months in prison. He will also have to pay $288,390.80 to cover the cost of the Oct. 8, 2013, hoax.

“False distress calls limit the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to actual emergencies,” Capt. Sean Murtagh, commander of USCG Sector North Carolina, said in a news release. “Ultimately, they penalize the local communities and mariners the Coast Guard is charged to protect by unnecessarily endangering the lives of responders and wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.”

In May Blackburn pleaded guilty to the fake distress call made from a CB in his apartment claiming he was sinking and abandoning ship near Cape Lookout.

The Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Park Service and a salvage company responded with boats and helicopters.

A witness told investigators Blackburn went out on his balcony to watch the helicopters search Cape Lookout. She told them when the hoax made news, Blackburn sent her a text asking her not to tell anyone about the call. Another witness said Blackburn bragged about the hoax.

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