Sandusky man sentenced for fake distress calls, Ordered to pay nearly $500,000

A Sandusky man was sentenced to three months in a federal prison, on Monday, and ordered to pay $489,007 in restitution after for making a false distress call that caused a massive search on Lake Erie. Earlier this year, 21-year-old Danik Shiv Kumar pleaded guilty to one count of making a false distress calls.

According to officials, in March 2012, Kumar took off in a Cessna single-engine plane for a solo flight from Burke Lakefront Airport to Bowling Green State University. About 30 minutes into the flight, Kumar called the Cleveland-Hopkins Airport control tower and reported seeing a vessel â??launching up flares,â?? according to court documents.

Kumar added that the boat was "a 25-foot fishing vessel I guess you could say. Everyone had a life jacket with a strobe light. I counted four of them,â?? according to court documents.

That information was then relayed to the Coast Guard, which immediately dispatched two vessels.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay searched for 21 hours, while multiple boat crews from Coast Guard Station Lorain, Ohio, searched for about 16 hours.

Rescue helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit joined in the search, as did a Canadian Coast Guard airplane crew from Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton, Ontario.

More than a month later, Kumar admitted that he never saw flares or a boat in distress and there were never any people in need of help.

He also admitted that when he landed at Bowling Green, he knew the USCG was searching with full force but chose not to report the truth.

The $489,007 restitution amount represents the cost of the search. The amount is comprised of the $277,257 expended by U.S. agencies and the $211,750 cost to the Canadian government. Kumar was also sentenced to 250 hours of community service and three years of supervised release.