Newport News man convicted of making false “man overboard” call to Coast Guard

Justin Stahmer

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A 39-year-old Newport News man has been convicted of making a false distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to court records, Justin P. Stahmer made the false distress call on June 20, 2016.

At the time, he was several miles northeast of Cape Henry and used the International Distress Frequency to call “man overboard” despite being alone on the boat and knowing no one had fallen into the water.

The Coast Guard spent over 45 minutes trying to get more information from Stahmer over the radio before launching a full search for the person in the water.

The search operation included the deployment of a 45-foot patrol boat, 87-foot cutter, and a search and rescue helicopter.

When the Coast Guard found Stahmer, he denied making a distress call but told them he called them because he ran out of gas.

When the Coast Guard Boarding Officers inspected his boat, Stahmer became belligerent and angry.

The Virginia Marine Resource Commission Police ultimately arrived and arrested Stahmer for boating under the influence of alcohol.

As he was being transported back to shore, Stahmer kicked and threatened one of the Coast Guard Boarding Officers, saying he would “take him out” if he ever saw him again.

Stahmer will be sentenced on February 20, 2018 and faces a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison.