Do the Crime. Do the Time.

Published on June 18th, 2014

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced a Gloucester (VA) woman pleaded guilty this week to making a false distress call.

Ashley Strum-Smith, 29, pleaded guilty to a criminal information filed May 27 in United States District Court. Strum-Smith faces a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and $82,764 in restitution when she is sentenced Oct. 20 in Norfolk, Va.

According to a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, on Aug. 13, 2012 Strum-Smith called in a false report of a ship taking on water in the Severn River. Multiple rescue vehicles from the Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad, Gloucester Fire Department, York County Fire Department, Mathews Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard were dispatched to locate and aid the ship. After a two hour search costing more than $82,000, it was determined the call was a hoax. Strum-Smith admitted to making the false report.

“Making a false distress call puts rescuers at risk,” said Rear Admiral Stephen Metruck, district commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District. “Responding to reports of distress in the maritime environment always involves risk, and the safety of each of our Coast Guard members is always at the core of every operation. Anyone who compromises their safety by making a false report will be held accountable.”

Source: US Coast Guard News

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