A commercial fisherman who faked his death to avoid incarceration for a sexual assault has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors say the Coast Guard spent $384,261.50 searching for 35-year-old Ryan Meganack after his girlfriend, who was part of the scheme, reported him missing off Port Graham, about 30 miles south of Homer.
Meganack in 2016 faced state charges of sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman, his second sex offense conviction.
Investigators determined he swamped his skiff, returned to Port Graham on another boat and hid out in a "makeshift camp" near his mother's home in late November 2016. As part of the plan, following Meganack's instructions, his girlfriend told his mother that they had gotten into an argument and he had left in the poorly functioning skiff while drunk, prosecutors said.
An extensive search for Meganack ensued.
Federal, state and local officials, along with local residents, searched for him in poor weather conditions of snow, high winds and low visibility.
Meganack planned to flee Alaska when the search ended.
The plan went awry when Meganack's girlfriend confessed to his grieving parents that Meganack was not dead.
In sentencing, U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason said Meganack causing a report of false distress had "an enormous impact" on the Coast Guard and community and needlessly "put so many at risk," according to federal prosecutors.
The judge ordered Meganack to serve 15 months in prison consecutive to his 15-year state sentence. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the Coast Guard.