Man jailed, fined in hoax

Jul 20, 2015 by Guest Writer

A Virginia man was sentenced in mid-June for falsifying statements to law enforcement officers in 2014, which launched a search-and-rescue operation involving multiple agencies.

Bryan Serafini, 43, was sentenced to 14 months incarceration, three years supervised probation and full restitution of the $117,913 associated with the search.

Serafini violated a security zone and was found intoxicated aboard a recreational vessel May 11, 2014. He told law enforcement officers the boat’s owner was overboard in an attempt to conceal that he had actually stolen the watercraft. The owner was never aboard with Serafini.

His false statement prompted a search by Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads, Newport News Police Department and Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

“The harsh reality of hoax distress calls is that every call received by the Coast Guard is treated as if it is a real distress case,” said Capt. Jeff Thomas, Chief of Response for the Coast Guard 5th District. “False distress calls incur significant cost to the public …and divert limited resources to respond to someone in distress who does not exist, placing both responders and potentially other mariners at risk.”