NJ Man Charged With Felony After Joke Text To Friend Prompts Rescue Response
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Be careful what you text — even to friends.
A New Jersey man said he was just playing an innocent joke, but the police said not so fast.
Bill Miller, of Keyport, New Jersey said it is no joke that he was arrested near his bright yellow catamaran on the shore on the Raritan Bay.
“My boat was never off the beach, I was in my house with my cell phone at my waist,” Miller told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis.
That’s when police said he took one joke too far.
Wednesday afternoon, he playfully texted a friend “I am flipped over in the middle of the bay…I don’t know what to do??”
“She took it seriously I guess and, uh…she had already contacted the authorities — 911,” Miller said.
Keyport police weren’t laughing. That text triggered an emergency response in the middle of a storm that included bad weather, dangerous lightning, trees and power lines down.
“That’s just like yelling fire in a movie theater — you’re scaring people, getting people to react,” said Butch Casaletto, of the Keyport Police.
“I never intended for this to happen,” Miller said.
Still, Miller was arrested and hit with a felony charge of causing a false public alarm, which carries a hefty 3 to 5 years in jail, and a $15,000 dollar fine.
Miller’s lawyer said he’ll fight it, because the alarm was private and went unchecked.
“Someone should have reached out to that cellular number and ascertained the danger, if there was any danger, in this case there wasn’t.” Miller’s attorney Scott Kelly said.
Lost in all the entire episode was the timing.
How much danger could Miller really have been in, if he had the time to text his so-called emergency? He said police never picked up the phone to ask.
“I’m deeply sorry for all the people that were called out, I appreciate what these services do for people,” Miller said.
“Dont cry wolf, don’t play a hoax. You don’t know how people are gonna react and you don’t know what it’s gonna start off as,” Casaletto said.
Miller will make his first court appearance on Monday.
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