FCC Resolves Investigation into 19-Year-Old’s Operation on Michigan Public-Safety Network
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Comments

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has entered into a consent decree to resolve its investigation into whether Cameron Thurston violated its rules by operating on spectrum that the commission licensed for use by the Michigan Public Safety Communications Network (MPSCS).

The commission’s rules ensure that spectrum remains available for exclusive use by public-safety entities by prohibiting unauthorized operations, prohibiting willful or malicious interference, and others.

Earlier this year, Thurston pleaded guilty to one felony count of computers – unauthorized access and one felony count of using a computer to commit a crime in connection with his misuse of the MPSCS. He transmitted a cloned radio on the public-safety network 989 times with 4.8-second average transmissions.

Because of Thurston’s age (19 years old), the nature of the offenses and his willingness to provide the Michigan State Police with information about how he gained access to the MPSCS, the court refrained from entering a judgment of conviction against Thurston and instead assigned him the status of a “youthful trainee” under Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. The court then imposed conditions with which Thurston must remain in compliance to maintain his status as a “youthful trainee.” If Thurston complies with the terms of the program for two years, the court will close the criminal proceeding without entering a judgment of conviction. If Thurston violates the terms of the program, the court will enter a judgment of conviction against Thurston for the two felonies for which he entered a guilty plea.

To settle this matter, Thurston admitted that, over a two-year period, he illegally operated on, and caused interference to, the MPSCS. He agreed not to operate on, or to cause interference to, the MPSCS in the future and surrendered his amateur radio license for cancellation with an agreement not to apply for a new amateur radio license for two years. He will pay a $3,000 civil penalty.

However, Thurston will pay an additional civil penalty of $17,000 if in the next 20 years the commission finds that he operates on, or causes interference to, the MPSCS, or otherwise violates the terms of the consent decree or the diversion program.

The FCC said it is in the public interest to adopt the consent decree. The full order is here.

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