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United States v. Serafini

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 10, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
BRYAN SERAFINI, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: May 12, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Newport News. Robert G. Doumar, Senior District Judge. (4:14-cr-00062-RGD-DEM-1)

         ARGUED:

          Patrick L. Bryant, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellant.

          Kevin Patrick Hudson, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Norfolk, Virginia, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Geremy C. Kamens, Acting Federal Public Defender, Keith Loren Kimball, Assistant Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellant.

          Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney, Alexandria, Virginia, Eric M. Hurt, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Newport News, Virginia, for Appellee.

          Before WILKINSON, MOTZ, and SHEDD, Circuit Judges.

          WILKINSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE:

         Appellant Brian Serafini pleaded guilty to one count of communicating a false distress message to the United States Coast Guard, in violation of 14 U.S.C. § 88(c). He was sentenced to fourteen months imprisonment and required to pay restitution for the costs incurred by the Coast Guard in responding to the specious communication. His sole argument on appeal is that the district court lacked the statutory authority to issue a restitution order. For the reasons that follow, we reject Serafini's claim and affirm the judgment of the district court.

         I.

         A.

         The facts giving rise to this case are not in dispute. On May 11, 2014, Newport News Police Department and Virginia Marine Resources Commission officers responded to a report that an unauthorized boat had drifted into a restricted marine area at the Newport News Shipbuilding Company ("the shipyard"). J.A. 39. When they arrived at the shipyard, the officers discovered Brian Serafini intoxicated in a twenty-four foot Shamrock motor vessel. Id.

         The officers questioned Serafini about how the vessel came to be in the restricted area of the shipyard. He explained that he had provided assistance to a man who was casting off the Shamrock from a pier located along the Pagan River. Serafini told the officers that once the boat left the pier he could not safely return to shore and thus remained onboard. As they exited the mouth of the river, the two men purportedly started fighting and eventually Serafini threw the other man overboard. Upon hearing Serafini's "very detailed" version of events, ...


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