FCC Proposes $25,000 Fine Against New York Man for Public-Safety Interference (6/27/14)
Friday, June 27, 2014 | Comments

The FCC proposed a penalty of $25,000 against Drew Buckley of Bay Shore, New York, for operating a radio transmitter without a license and interfering with the licensed radio communications system of the Melville Fire District of New York.

The FCC said Buckley intentionally and maliciously interfered with frequencies used by Melville to communicate during fire emergencies and demonstrated a deliberate disregard for public safety and the FCC’s authority and rules, warranting a substantial penalty above its normal sanction for unlicensed operations that interfere with licensed communications.

In October 2013, Melville, the licensee of private land mobile station WIG703, filed a complaint with the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau alleging that an unidentified male made unauthorized transmissions on its radio communications system, specifically its repeater system. Melville reported that the unauthorized transmissions typically consisted of chanting and heavy breathing. When these unauthorized transmissions occurred during fire emergencies, Melville firefighters were forced to switch to an alternate frequency to effectively communicate with each other and with the dispatchers.

Melville also reported that all of the unauthorized transmissions had the same unique identifying code, indicating that the unauthorized transmissions were coming from a radio programmed with a code assigned to Fire Department rescue officers in the Suffolk County Fire Service.

In November 2013, commission agents traced the source of the interfering transmissions to Buckley’s residence in Bay Shore. Agents heard Buckley interfere with Melville’s licensed communications by continuing to transmit while fire department personnel were using the radio communications system to respond to a fire emergency. FCC records showed that no authorization was issued to anyone to operate a private land mobile station at the location of Buckley’s residence.

Police officers interviewed Buckley at his residence. Buckley showed the officers numerous portable radios and two vehicular mobile radios at the residence. The officers, with the assistance of Melville’s Fire Chief, confirmed that two of the portable radios could transmit on the repeater input frequency and activate the Melville repeater.

The officers also confirmed that one of the two portable radios transmitted the unique identifying code that Melville observed when the unauthorized transmissions interfered with its communications. As a result, police officers arrested Buckley Nov. 30, 2013, and his case is pending in Suffolk County District Court.

Under FCC rules, the base forfeiture amount for operation without an instrument of authorization is $10,000, and the base forfeiture amount for interference is $7,000. The commission found that an upward adjustment of $8,000 to the combined base forfeiture of $17,000 is warranted.

The full order is here.

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