Danik Kumar pleaded guilty Jan. 17, 2013, in U.S. Northern District Court to one count of making a false distress call. He was sentenced to three months in prison, 250 hours of community service and three years of supervised release.
He was also ordered to pay about $277,000 to the U.S. Coast Guard and about $212,000 to the Canadian government, as reimbursement for costs related to the daylong search in March 2012.
Kumar appealed the order, but on Tuesday the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 opinion that stated the U.S. Northern District Court in Toledo was correct in ordering him to pay back the costs of the search.
“This is an onerous burden to place on the shoulders of a young man, but it is consonant with Congress’s manifest intent to deal harshly with such hoaxes, in order to deter the diversion of critical resources away from true emergencies,” the decision stated.
Circuit Judge Helene White was the lone dissenter. She agreed the district court had authority to order Kumar to pay for the search, but she disagreed with the amount imposed, saying indirect costs — such as running, maintenance and managing the Coast Guard — should not have been included in the restitution.
Kumar’s attorney, Edmund Searby, said he’s deciding if he should appeal the decision, either by asking the entire Circuit Court to review the decision or by going to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We are disappointed with the decision,” Searby said. “Like everyone else, the government should be limited to recovering its actual losses”