FCC Shows No Mercy, Sustains $22,000 Fine for Egregious On-Air Behavior by Michigan Licensee
The FCC has dropped the other shoe — hard — in the case of Michael Guernsey, KZ8O (ex-ND8V), of Parchment, Michigan, imposing the full $22,000 fine it had proposed in 2014 for causing intentional interference with other Amateur Radio communications and for failing to identify. In a Forfeiture Order issued on July 22, 2015 — exactly 1 year from its Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) proposing the hefty fine — the FCC cited Guernsey’s “long history of causing interference to other Amateur Radio operators” and noted that he “has been warned repeatedly in writing.” Guernsey’s interactions with the FCC Enforcement Bureau date back well over a decade, and, at one point agreed to have his license suspended for 9 months.
“Despite repeated warnings from the [Enforcement] Bureau regarding his on-air behavior, Mr Guernsey’s violations included the deliberate playing of music on top of the transmissions of other amateur operators in order to obstruct their ability to communicate on the frequency,” the FCC recounted in the July 22 Forfeiture Order. “Mr Guernsey further used various animal noises to prevent the communications of other stations with whom he had a longstanding and well-documented dispute.”
The FCC said the egregiousness of Guernsey’s “repeated willful acts of malicious interference” warranted the assessment of the full $22,000 forfeiture it had proposed a year earlier. “Nothing in the record in this case, including Mr Guernsey’s financial condition, warrants any leniency or mitigation of that amount,” the FCC added.
In responding to the 2014 NAL, Guernsey denied responsibility for the interference, in part noting that FCC agents had not inspected his station and may have heard the signal of a nearby radio amateur. He also sought a cancellation or reduction of the fine based on inability to pay. The FCC was having none of it. The Commission said its agents “positively confirmed the source” of the interfering transmissions as Guernsey’s residence and monitored them for 40 minutes. Further, the FCC said that inability to pay a fine was but one criterion it uses in determining an appropriate financial penalty.
“Considering the entire record, we find no reason to cancel, withdraw, or reduce the proposed penalty,” the FCC said in the Forfeiture Order to Guernsey, who has 30 days to pay the fine or arrange to do so on an installment plan.
In a related enforcement case, the FCC in January affirmed an $11,500 fine against Brian Crow, K3VR, of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, for causing deliberate interference. The FCC The Enforcement Bureau had proposed fining for both Crow and Guernsey in separate, but similarly worded Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture issued a year ago. Crow did not respond to the 2014 NAL.
In both instances, the FCC said, it responded in March 2014 to “several complaints of intentional interference” on 14.313 MHz, and Commission agents used radio direction-finding techniques to pin down the transmission sources.