March 18, 2020

Louisiana ham fined $18,000 by FCC

From the ARRL - In an enforcement case prompted by complaints filed in 2017, the FCC has imposed an $18,000 forfeiture on Jerry W. Materne, KC5CSG, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, for intentional interference and failure to identify. The FCC had proposed the fine in a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) in the case in July 2018, and, based on Materne’s response to the NAL, the agency affirmed the fine in a March 12 Forfeiture Order (FO).

As the FCC recounted in the FO, an FCC agent “observed Materne causing intentional interference to a local repeater by generating digital noise into an analog radio.” The agent further reported that Materne failed to transmit his call sign, as required.

Materne disputed the FCC’s findings, arguing that the NAL should be canceled because the agent “was mistaken in his determination that the source of the interference was Materne’s station” as his
radio was not capable of operating on the repeater frequency in question, the FCC said in the NO. Materne also asserted that he is unable to pay the fine and suggested in his response that the FCC should be able to access his financial information.

The FCC countered that the radio the agent observed in Materne’s possession was capable of operating on the frequency in question. “We therefore are unpersuaded…that the proposed forfeiture should be cancelled because, he alleges, he was not the party causing interference to the repeater and the radio in his possession could not operate on the frequency in question,” the FCC said in affirming the findings of the NAL. “We are also unpersuaded by Materne’s argument that he lacks the ability to pay the full $18,000 forfeiture.” The FCC said Materne failed to provide the FCC with proof of inability to pay, as required by the NAL.

The FCC gave Materne 30 days to pay the fine, or face having the case turned over to the US Department of Justice for enforcement.