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Hoax caller sentenced

NOV. 2 — A Florida man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $347,000 in restitution for making a hoax distress call to the Coast Guard this summer.

Robert J. Moran, 45, of Boynton Beach, was sentenced Monday for making the June 11 call that spurred a two-day search-and-rescue operation, an Associated Press news report says. Moran had pleaded guilty in August.

“This was a crude attempt at a very foolish act that Mr. Moran has great remorse for,” Moran’s defense attorney reportedly said in court. The attorney argued that Moran was under the influence of alcohol and painkillers when he made the hoax call. Moran was arrested at his home June 27 after a tipster told the police that Moran made the call.

Authorities say Moran called the Coast Guard from a handheld VHF radio and said his 33-foot Grady-White, Blue Sheep, was taking on water and sinking near the Boynton Beach Inlet, the report says. Moran claimed there were five adults and four children on board.

The Coast Guard launched a two-day search for Blue Sheep using a C-130 airplane, HH-60 helicopters and various vessels from a number of agencies, the report says. The search cost taxpayers more than $347,000.

— Jason Fell