Like wikizens, ham radio operators share communication resources and sometimes endure the abuse of others. Hams have learned over the years that the best way to deal with occasional pests is simply to turn off the radio. But then, some pests just won't quit. The following notice caught my attention especially for the tennacity of the alleged jammer.
from the American Radio Relay League's ARRL Letter Vol. 24, No. 18 May 6, 2005 ...
FEDERAL AGENTS ARREST, DETAIN ALLEGED CALIFORNIA JAMMER
Reputed Los Angeles-area repeater jammer and former Amateur Radio licensee Jack Gerritsen was taken off the air and into custody this week. Acting on a criminal complaint, FBI special agents, accompanied by personnel from the FCC Los Angeles Field Office, arrested the 68-year-old Gerritsen without incident early May 5 at his home in Bell, California. Federal agents also confiscated Gerritsen's radio equipment.
"A criminal complaint filed Wednesday afternoon charges Gerritsen with a felony charge of malicious interference with a communications system operated by the United States and a misdemeanor count of transmitting radio signals without a license," said a May 5 statement from the office of Debra W. Yang, US Attorney for the Central District of California. "The two charges carry a potential penalty of 11 years in federal prison."
At an initial court appearance May 5, bond was set at $250,000 "fully secured." A spokesman in the US Attorney's office explained that Gerritsen will have to post property or cash to be released, but that it will be several days before the necessary paperwork is ready--assuming that Gerritsen is able to make bail. Once released on bond, Gerritsen would be subject to home detention and barred from possessing any radio equipment, the spokesman said, adding that Gerritsen's house would remain subject to search to make sure.
Unless Gerritsen is indicted beforehand, a preliminary hearing in the case is set for May 25, with arraignment to follow on May 31.
The criminal complaint says an FCC investigation revealed that Gerritsen "transmits his prerecorded political messages and real-time harassment and profanity for hours at a time, often making it impossible for licensed radio operators to use the public frequencies."
Gerritsen already faces a total of $52,000 in FCC-imposed or proposed forfeitures for alleged interference. In March, the FCC denied a Petition for Reconsideration and upheld a $10,000 fine against Gerritsen for interfering with Amateur Radio communications. Gerritsen has yet to pay the fine.
An FBI affidavit sworn out this week in advance of obtaining a search warrant of Gerritsen's residence indicates that FCC agents have been investigating multiple instances of unlawful radio transmissions and malicious interference attributed to Gerritsen over the past four years. FCC agents on a regular basis have been monitoring radio transmissions said to be coming from Gerritsen. They've also spoken with him in person and asked to inspect his station, although earlier FCC documents say he refused that request.
In addition to Amateur Radio repeater communications, Gerritsen is alleged to have interfered with Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) transmissions. The FCC also reported that it has received complaints from other government agencies that Gerritsen interfered with local and state police and fire agencies, the American Red Cross, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and other radio services. A MARS training exercise in March had to be canceled as a result of interference attributed to Gerritsen.
Earlier this week, Gerritsen, who briefly held the call sign KG6IRO as a Technician licensee and still uses it on the air, was taken into custody by Bell, California, police officers on an unrelated contempt of court citation after violating the terms of a temporary restraining order (TRO) a local radio amateur had obtained to keep Gerritsen off a local repeater. He was released without bond after being held for a few hours and was reported back on area repeaters not long afterward.
Radio amateurs on the West Coast have been complaining for months about the slow pace of enforcement action in the Gerritsen case. Los Angeles-area repeater owners have taken to shutting down their machines to avoid the nearly constant barrage of malicious interference attributed to Gerritsen.
Five years ago, Gerritsen was convicted in state court of interfering with police radio transmissions and sentenced to 38 months in prison. Following his release in July 2003, the FCC soon began receiving complaints about Gerritsen's activity on the airwaves, according to this week's criminal complaint.
Yang's office said the FBI "received substantial assistance" from the FCC in the case.