US man faces $1m bill for faking own death

(The Sun-Sentinel)
(The Sun-Sentinel)

A US man who faked his own death has been ordered to pay $1 million to cover the search effort.

A boat rented in the name of Richard Winsor Ohrn was discovered adrift off Lake Worth Inlet in South Florida on March 31, 2015, according to The Washington Post.

Patches of blood and a pair of glasses were reportedly discovered on board.

An unsuccessful search and rescue effort for Mr Ohrn stretched on for days, costing more than US$1 million as the Coastguard used extensive resources to try find him.

He reappeared in Palm Beach County just two weeks later, and later admitted to faking his disappearance.

He reportedly towed an inflatable raft behind the boat, allowing him to return to shore. An investigation found he had been staying in an apartment in Georgia which he rented in the name of a relative.

In August, Mr Orhn pleaded guilty to a charge of communicating a false distress signal. This week, he was sentenced to one year probation, and ordered to pay $1 million for the cost of the search effort, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinal.

His plea agreement states he "decided to 'just go away' due to his anxiety". His defence attorney recommended a reduced punishment for Mr Ohrn, saying mounting pressure in his life meant he acted in desperation.

Mr Ohrn reportedly suffered from mental illness stemming from abuse he suffered as a child. He was also under pressure from mounting financial problems and his wife's life-threatening health issues, according to the Sun-Sentinal.

The maximum penalty in the US for communicating a false distress signal is six years in prison.