The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:
(PORTLAND, Ore.) — The U.S. District Court in Oregon has unsealed a five-count indictment alleging Bud O’Neil Burkleo, 35, of Warrenton, Ore., made false mayday calls to the Coast Guard during a seven-month span in 2016, prompting numerous rescue responses.
Burkleo was arrested Friday morning in Warrenton without incident and made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta on Friday afternoon in Portland.
Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Command Center personnel received 40 false mayday calls between April and December 2016.
In December 2016, the Coast Guard released recordings of three false mayday calls and asked for media and public support in finding the perpetrator. The tips received were forwarded to the Coast Guard Investigative Service.
Capt. Bill Timmons, commander, Sector Columbia River, reminds the public that making a hoax distress call is a crime punishable by up to six years in prison, a $250,000 criminal fine, a $5,000 civil fine and restitution paid to the Coast Guard for operating costs incurred. The hourly standard rates for Coast Guard assets can be found at Coast Guard Reimbursable Standard Rates.
An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.