FCC Upholds $17,000 Forfeiture Order to Tennessee Ham
In March 2009, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) in the amount of $17,000 to David Edward Perka, KA3PRB, of Lewisburg, Tennessee. The FCC alleges that Perka “willfully and repeatedly violat[ed] section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, by operating without a license in the Maritime Radio Service and willfully violat[ed] Section 333 of the Act by maliciously interfering with the United States Coast Guard on the International Distress, Safety and Calling Channel in Annapolis, Maryland.” Perka, who admitted to the findings, requested a reduction in the forfeiture amount, based on his inability to pay, but in a Forfeiture Order released by the FCC on September 21, 2011, the Commission refused to lower the amount.
In April 2008, agents in the FCC’s Columbia Office determined that Perka operated on Marine Channel 16 (156.800 MHz), the International Distress, Safety and Calling Channel for stations operating in the Maritime Radio Service. According to the Forfeiture Order, even though Perka is a licensed radio amateur, he does not hold a license to operate in the Maritime Service. “The unauthorized transmissions on April 6, 2008 consisted of Perka making threatening statements to the USCG,” the FCC stated in the Forfeiture Order. “Perka later admitted to FCC agents that the transmissions on April 6, 2008 were intentionally transmitted to harass the USCG. The unauthorized transmissions on April 7, 2008 consisted of tones from a Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) keypad.” In March 2009, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) in the amount of $17,000 to Perka
In determining whether it should lower a Forfeiture Order, the FCC -- as required by Section 503(b) of the Communications Act -- takes into account “the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violation and, with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay and other such matters as justice may require.” The FCC has determined that, in general, gross revenues are the best indicator of an ability to pay a forfeiture. The NAL specifically stated that a cancellation or reduction based on inability to pay will not be considered unless the petitioner provides either federal tax returns for the most recent three-year period, financial statements prepared according to generally accepted accounting practices or some other reliable and objective documentation that accurately reflects the petitioner’s current financial status.
The FCC considered Perka’s response to the NAL, but because he did not dispute any of the findings in the NAL, the FCC found that Perka “willfully and repeatedly violated Section 301 and willfully violated section 333 of the Communications Act. “The only documentation Perka submitted was a single unemployment check from the State of Maryland dated April 6, 2009,” the FCC noted. “Enforcement Bureau staff provided Perka an additional opportunity to submit documentation in support of his request for a reduction based on an inability to pay. Although we have evidence that Perka received the letter, we have not received a response. We therefore have no basis for assessing Perka’s financial situation and find that a forfeiture in the amount of $17,000 is warranted.”