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Lafayette man cited for alleged fake distress calls

Posted: 1:14 PM, Aug 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-15 14:48:54-04

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a Lafayette man for alleged criminal mischief Monday in Pointe Coupee Parish.

Benjamin T. Becnel was cited for criminal mischief, accused of making fake distress calls from the radio on his vessel.

Agents received a call on Aug. 13 in the afternoon about a distress call in the vicinity of False River.  Agents made contact with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and informed them that they went to the vicinity of the distress call and could not locate anyone in distress.

Later that evening, another mayday call went out to the USCG in the vicinity of False River near Oscar.  The USCG deployed a search and rescue mission by air and the LDWF and Pointe Coupee Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) deployed vessels to False River.

At approximately 10 p.m. LDWF agents and PCSO deputies made contact with Becnel, who was an occupant on a vessel on False River earlier in the day.  During questioning, Becnel allegedly admitted to the agents and deputies that he had made the distress calls by VHF radio from his vessel.

Criminal mischief brings up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.