A Vinalhaven Island man who made a bogus “mayday” call to the U.S. Coast Guard last year pretending to be an injured crewman on a fishing boat pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal charge of making a false distress call.

Owen Adair, 23, told the Coast Guard on Sept. 30 that he was aboard the Lila Rose off the coast of Rockland with a serious neck injury, and that he was bleeding badly, according records filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

The Coast Guard searched for the Lila Rose, whose home port is Vinalhaven, for four hours before calling off the search. The Coast Guard later determined that the Lila Rose was safe on its mooring, according to a prosecution document filed at the court. “In fact, the defendant was not aboard the vessel but was ashore on Vinalhaven Island and was using a VHF radio in his truck,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Chapman in the prosecution document. “At no time was there an injured person needing assistance from the Coast Guard.”

Adair appeared before Judge Nancy Torresen on Wednesday for a hearing at which he waived his right to have the case presented to a grand jury and agreed to plead guilty, court records say.

Adair is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 12. He faces as much as six years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.


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