Amateur Radio Operator Settles with DOJ, FCC for $7,000
Thursday, July 05, 2018 | Comments

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FCC reached a settlement with an amateur radio operator for intentionally causing interference to other amateur radio operators’ transmissions and failing to provide station identification when transmitting. The FCC worked with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania to reach an agreement with Brian Crow arising from an FCC forfeiture order that found his behavior violated the Communications Act and the FCC’s rules.

The settlement requires Crow to pay the U.S. Treasury $7,000 — a substantial payment for an amateur operator. The initial proposed penalty in 2014 was $11,500.

“When a ‘ham radio’ operator interferes with other operators, the whole amateur radio system is threatened — potentially to the point that it could fall apart,” said Rosemary Harold, chief of the Enforcement Bureau. “Amateur radio licensees know that the rules require them to share the airwaves, which means that bad actors cannot plead ignorance. 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 or face real consequences. We thank the U.S. 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.”

Crow operates an amateur radio station (call sign K3VR) from North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Amateur radio operators are required to hold a license from the FCC and to cooperate with each other when using amateur radio frequencies, which are shared frequencies. The commission found that Crow intentionally caused interference to other amateur radio operators and blocked others’ use of the airwaves. Crow also failed to transmit his FCC assigned call sign, which allows other amateur operators to identify the source of transmissions that occupy the amateur radio bands, as required by the commission’s rules.

He is also limited to “technician class” operating privileges for the next six months, after which — if no new violations have been found — he will again be authorized to operate with “amateur extra” operating privileges. Amateur radio license classes permit some licensees additional operating privileges, such as access to more amateur frequencies, depending on which exam they passed. Higher class access is a privilege that the FCC can curtail or even deny based on conduct by the licensee.

Harold also pointed out the work of the FCC field agents involved in this case: “I want to thank our outstanding field agents for the continued vigilance and hard work in ensuring our airwaves are used lawfully,” she said.

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On 11/8/19, Bill Amore said:
I wasn't too much against dropping the code requirement, although I taught myself the code in just two days and was up to 25 wpm when I took and passed my first Novice test. The problem is that there is no more knowledge-based test requirements for obtaining a ham license. The lack of respect and ignorance on the bands today is a result of no longer having to earn the license. It's basically a fishing permit. It's simply a sign and drive situation. The VE program was a tremendous mistake. It has been abused from day one. I could go on.

On 7/31/18, James J Johnson said:
The FCC needs to change its rules or work with Congress to pass legislation allowing the commission to have greater flexibility in dealing with the non-remunerative services such as amateur radio service (ARS). It's ridiculous that they have to go through the process of issuing fines of relative amounts and then have the Department of Justice (DOJ) pursue them just to curtail the bad behavior of problem operators.

In this case, the operator was actually willing to pay a $7,000 fine in order to continue to be licensed. I won't be the least bit surprised if he goes back to his misbehaving ways in short order once he has full HF privileges again.

They need to subject more operators to license suspension revocation or significant reductions in privilege with an expedited appeal process that involves something more informal than forcing them to go before administrative law judges (ALJs) who are too busy dealing with commercial broadcasting and public utility matters.

If they're not willing to do that then they need to seriously consider either allowing the ARS to become like CB and drop the licensing requirement altogether, only taking enforcement action if there is significant criminal activity involving the use of the airwaves or if there is interference to public-safety emergency or remunerative services. Or if they still want to pretend that it's a regulated service while not actually regulating it then they need greater privacy protection for amateurs.

On 7/16/18, Karol F MADERA said:
The first and definitive Department of Justice (DOJ) press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania dated 3 July 2018 unequivocally states that there are three components to this settlement:
"Besides paying [$7,000.], Crow agreed that his license operating class will be reduced to Technician class for the next six months and agreed to discontinue contact with the individuals involved in this case."

The subsequent FCC and ARRL Press Release variations/elaborations on the DOJ original can be found here:

FYI I am one — indeed the main — individual inferentially referred to, without explicitly being named, "involved in this case." Previously, in the foundational notice of apparent liability (NAL), I was also similarly referred to in Footnote 11 as one of the "two amateur radio operators with whom Mr. Crow has had a longstanding and well-documented dispute" (a dispute on-air, on the internet and even in real life).

Moreover, in the lengthy and highly disturbing in its implications Footnote 16 of the same NAL canvassing events more than a year earlier, it was my recorded voice, call-sign and more, that were repeatedly fraudulently re-broadcast over my lawful transmissions, by Brian Crow K3VR and that without transmitting his own call-sign for ID, as required by law.

Without going into mindless detail, to get a mere inkling of just how bad a "bad actor," in the words of Rosemary Harold, chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau Brian Crow truly was/is [in reality for over 15 years!], peruse the following. Yes, Brian Crow was in fact originally trained as an actor. [use to open links that no longer open automatically]

On 7/12/18, John Birdlebough said:
Good to see this person was held accountable, but the FCC needs to reach out to the ham community and track down the current batch of bad actors. Hams are very frustrated about this and want to help the FCC solve this. So FCC and Department of Justice (DOJ), please reach out to us so we can insure our airwaves are used properly.

On 7/12/18, A. Chris Fristad said:
I believe he should have been required to forfeit his license.

On 7/11/18, Norman W. Hill Jr. said:
That's getting off light. Many rogue amateur radio operators lose their licenses. This amateur operator still has privileges in the VHF bands 50, 144 and 430 MHz where there is interference with repeaters. He does have limited privileges on 28 – 29.7 MHz, another band that suffers from interference often. IMHO he got off light this time. A radio license is granted to people of good character and conduct and can be revoked for various reasons including non-radio felonies.


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