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FCC fines Amateur and Restricts Privileges

The US Department of Justice and the FCC have reached a settlement with Brian Crow, K3VR, of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, to resolve allegations that Crow intentionally interfered with the communications of other Amateur Radio operators and failed to properly identify. The core component of the settlement calls on Crow to pay $7,000 to the US Treasury, the FCC and US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott W. Brady announced in separate July 3 news releases. In addition, Crow’s Amateur Extra class license will be restricted to Technician class privileges for 6 months, and he has agreed to discontinue contact with the individuals involved in this case. Crow’s Amateur Extra privileges will be restored after 6 months, “if no new violations have been found,” the FCC said.

“Amateur Radio licensees know that the rules require them to share the airwaves, which means that bad actors cannot plead ignorance,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold said in the FCC release. “This settlement is a significant payment for an individual operator, and it sends a serious message: Play by the rules in the Amateur Radio band[s] or face real consequences. We thank the US Attorney’s Office for understanding the importance of this type of case and pushing it forward to ensure a resolution that included strong penalties for substantial violations of the law.”

The settlement resolves a civil complaint (USA v. Brian Crow [No. 17-595]) in Federal District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to recover an unpaid $11,500 fine that the FCC imposed on Crow in a 2015 Forfeiture Order.

“Allowing licensed Amateur Radio operators the freedom to converse with others in an orderly fashion and without unwanted disruption is one of the missions of the FCC,” Brady said. “This complaint identifies one such individual who intentionally interfered with other law-abiding Amateur Radio operators.”

The FCC recounted in its Forfeiture Order that it had responded in March 2014 to “several complaints of intentional interference” on 14.313 MHz, and that Commission agents used radio direction-finding techniques to determine the transmission sources. According to the court complaint against Crow, FCC agents tracked transmissions to Crow’s residence and monitored them for approximately 3 hours and heard him transmit slow-scan television (SSTV) signals and a prerecorded voice transmission of another Amateur Radio station on the frequency.

The FCC said it worked with Brady’s office to craft the agreement with Crow arising from its Forfeiture Order “that found his behavior violated the Communications Act and the Commission’s rules.”

According to Brady’s office, the claims that the settlement resolves “are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

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