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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Jack Gerritsen ) File Number EB-04-LA-292
) NAL/Acct. No.200532900006
) FRN 0005240072
NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE
By the District Director, Los Angeles District Office, Western
Region, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture
("NAL"), we find that Jack Gerritsen ("Gerritsen") apparently
willfully violated Sections 321(b) and 333 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, ("Act") by willfully
and maliciously interfering with the radio communications of a
Coast Guard Auxiliary Officer while he attempted to use the
amateur frequencies to contact a sailing vessel in distress.1
We conclude, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Communications
Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"),2 that Gerritsen is apparently
liable for a forfeiture in the amount of twenty-one thousand
2. On November 14, 2001, the Commission's Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau set aside, on its own motion, amateur
radio station license ``KG6IRO,'' which was granted to
Gerritsen on November 7, 2001.3 Gerritsen was warned that
``you have no authority to operate radio transmitting
equipment, and such operation would be a violation of Section
301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C.
Section 301, subjecting you to monetary penalties and
imprisonment.''4 On July 16, 2004, Gerritsen was warned by
agents from the Commission's Los Angeles Office that he did not
have authority to transmit on any amateur band and that he
should vacate all amateur frequencies.
3. On October 29, 2004, at 11:25 AM, the Commission's Los
Angeles Office received a telephone call from a complainant
stating that she had not been able to contact her husband on
the sailing vessel (``S/V'') Elke-Marie traveling from
California to Guadalupe Island, Mexico. According to the
complainant, the S/V Elke-Marie had been traveling with a
companion vessel, the S/V Drummoral, and both had encountered a
storm on the evening of October 25, 2004. The storm had
damaged the S/V Elke-Marie, rendering the ship's VHF marine
radio inoperable. The amateur radio was the only operational
transmitter aboard the vessel as the S/V Elke-Marie turned
around and sailed back towards Catalina Island. The
complainant stated that when she contacted Coast Guard Los
Angeles Group to report she had not heard from her husband in
two days, the U.S. Coast Guard Operations Center contacted a
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Officer and requested that he
attempt to contact the complainant's husband via amateur radio,
to determine his need for assistance. Information received
from the Coast Guard Auxiliary Officer (``Officer'') indicated
that, beginning at about 10:00 AM on October 29, 2004, the
Officer came up on the Catalina Island Amateur Repeater
Association (``CARA'') repeater on Catalina Island, California,
transmitting on 147.090/147.690 MHz, and requested that all
stations stand by while he attempted to contact the S/V Elke-
Marie on behalf of the Coast Guard.5 Shortly thereafter,
according to the Officer and the complainant, Gerritsen began
speaking and transmitting a prerecorded message using the CARA
repeater. Throughout the transmissions, Gerritsen repeatedly
announced his cancelled amateur call sign of ``KG6IRO.'' The
Officer announced that the channel was being used for emergency
traffic. According to the Officer, each time he attempted to
contact the S/V Elke-Marie, Gerritsen played a recording or
questioned the validity of the emergency. When asked by the
Officer to stand down, Gerritsen stated that he did not believe
there was a real emergency and continued to transmit his
messages. The Officer attempted to assure Gerritsen there was
a real emergency only to be rebuffed by Gerritsen who accused
the Officer of declaring a sham emergency in an attempt to
``jam'' his messages. Gerritsen continued transmitting for
approximately 40 minutes, repeatedly playing a taped recording
and ultimately ending his transmission by stating ``If you jam
me, I'll jam you.''
4. On October 29, 2004 at approximately 11:35 AM, Los
Angeles Office agents approached Gerritsen's residence at 6217
½ Palm Avenue, Bell, California. The agents located the source
of a signal on 147.690 MHz, the input frequency to the CARA
repeater, to Gerritsen's residence. After several failed
attempts, one of the agents called Gerritsen's residential
telephone using his cellular telephone. The call was answered
by someone in the residence who would not speak. The Los
Angeles agent then requested a face to face interview with
Gerritsen. Shortly thereafter the phone line went dead.
Subsequent attempts to reach Gerritsen over the phone resulted
in busy signals.
5. On October 29, 2004, at approximately 4:38 PM, Los
Angeles agents returned to Gerritsen's residence. Using mobile
direction finding techniques, the agents located the source of
a signal on 147.8117 MHz, which identified as ``KG6IRO,'' to
Gerritsen's residence at 6217 ½ Palm Avenue, Bell, California.
As the agents approached the front door to Gerritsen's
residence they heard a male voice coming from inside the
residence which synchronized with the voice heard on the
agents' handheld scanner tuned to 147.810 MHz. The voice was
familiar to the agents as Gerritsen's voice. No one answered
the door. The agents requested information concerning
Gerritsen's involvement in a Coast Guard rescue earlier that
day, and requested an inspection and an interview. There was
no response to the requests.
6. On November 3, 2004, the Commission's Los Angeles
Office received information from the President of CARA, who
reported that he had monitored and recorded the communications
between Gerritsen and the Coast Guard Auxiliary Officer on
October 29, 2004. The recording reveals that for approximately
40 minutes, Gerritsen is speaking and playing a recorded
message while the Officer and the complainant urge him to cease
transmissions and vacate the frequency because of the
7. Section 503(b) of the Act provides that any person who
willfully or repeatedly fails to comply substantially with the
terms and conditions of any license, or willfully or repeatedly
fails to comply with any of the provisions of the Act or of any
rule, regulation or order issued by the Commission thereunder,
shall be liable for a forfeiture penalty. The term "willful"
as used in Section 503(b) has been interpreted to mean simply
that the acts or omissions are committed knowingly.6
8. Section 333 of the Act states that no person shall
willfully or maliciously interfere with, or cause interference
to, any radio communications of any station licensed or
authorized by or under this Act or operated by the United
States Government. The legislative history for Section 333
identifies willful and malicious interference as ``intentional
jamming, deliberate transmission on top of the transmissions of
authorized users already using specific frequencies in order to
obstruct their communications, repeated interruptions, and the
use and transmission of whistles, tapes, records, or other
types of noisemaking devices to interfere with the
communications or radio signals of other stations.''7 One
hallmark of willful and malicious interference in the Amateur
Radio Service is the refusal by an operator to allow any other
operator to talk.8
9. Section 321(b) of the Act states that ``[a]ll radio
stations, including Government stations and stations on board
foreign vessels when within the territorial waters of the
United States, shall give absolute priority to radio
communications or signals relating to ships in distress; shall
cease all sending on frequencies which will interfere with
hearing a radio communication or signal of distress, and,
except when engaged in answering or aiding the ship in
distress, shall refrain from sending any radio communications
or signals until there is assurance that no interference will
be caused with the radio communications or signals relating
thereto, and shall assist the vessel in distress, so far as
possible, by complying with its instructions.''9 Section
97.101(c) of the Commission's Rules, concerning amateur
operations, states that ``[a]t all times and on all
frequencies, each control operator must give propriety to
stations providing emergency communications . . . .''10
10. On October 29, 2004, a Coast Guard Auxiliary
Officer attempted to contact a damaged vessel in distress near
Catalina Island. Because the VHF marine radio on the damaged
vessel was inoperable, the Officer used the CARA Repeater to
contact the vessel and asked all stations to stand by during
his emergency communications, consistent with Section 321(b) of
the Act. Shortly after the emergency communications began,
Gerritsen, clearly identifying himself by his cancelled
callsign of ``KG6IRO,'' began transmitting on the CARA Repeater
input frequency. Although the frequency had been cleared for
emergency communications, Gerritsen refused to clear the
channel, and refused to cease transmitting, obstructing the
communications of the authorized users during the emergency.
His refusal to clear the frequency, and his continual use of
the frequency during the emergency, interfered with the Coast
Guard Auxiliary Officer's ability to hear radio communications
from the ship in distress. The Officer and the complainant
both repeatedly asked Gerritsen to vacate the frequency, so
that it could be used to locate the complainant's husband at
sea. Gerritsen refused.
11. Gerritsen currently holds no Commission license or
authorization to operate on any amateur frequency and, in the
past year, Commission agents have warned Gerritsen that he
holds no valid authorization to operate on amateur frequencies.
However, Gerritsen continues to operate on amateur frequencies
and, on October 29, 2004, apparently willfully and maliciously
interfered with communications relating to a ship in distress.
The requirement of Section 321(b) that all radio stations
``shall give absolute priority to radio communications or
signals relating to ships in distress . . . and shall assist
the vessel in distress, so far as possible'' exemplifies one
of the best uses for radio transmissions, the endeavor to save
a human life. Gerritsen's actions on October 29, 2004,
however, exemplify the worst. Gerritsen was repeatedly warned
during his transmissions that he was interfering with emergency
communications relating to a vessel in distress. He
nonetheless continued to transmit, announcing, at the end of
the emergency, that he would jam anyone who would jam him.
Therefore, his violation is willful. Based on the evidence
before us, we find that Gerritsen apparently willfully violated
Sections 321(b) and 333 of the Act by willfully and
maliciously interfering with the radio communications of a
Coast Guard Auxiliary Officer while he attempted to use the
amateur frequencies to contact a sailing vessel in distress.
12. Pursuant to The Commission's Forfeiture Policy
Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Rules to
Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines, ("Forfeiture Policy
Statement"), and Section 1.80 of the Rules, the base forfeiture
amount for causing interference to licensed stations is
$7,000.11 In assessing the monetary forfeiture amount, we must
also take into account the statutory factors set forth in
Section 503(b)(2)(D) of the Act, which include the nature,
circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violations, and with
respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, and history
of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other such matters as
justice may require.12 Based on the criteria in Section
503(b)(2)(D) of the Act, and the upward adjustment criteria in
the Forfeiture Policy Statement, we find that an upward
adjustment of the base forfeiture amount of $7,000 is
warranted.13 Gerritsen's apparent willful and malicious
interference with the radio communications of the Coast Guard
Auxiliary Officer, who was attempting to communicate with a
ship in distress, is egregious. According to the evidence,
Gerritsen knowingly operates, without a license, radio
transmission equipment. On October 29, 2004, his unauthorized
operations interfered with emergency communications related to
aiding a ship in distress. Gerritsen continued to transmit on
a frequency that had been cleared for emergency communications,
despite repeated warnings and requests to vacate the frequency.
Considering the entire record and applying the factors listed
above, we conclude that Gerritsen is apparently liable for a
forfeiture in the amount of $21,000.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
13. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to
Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended,
and Sections 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80 of the Commission's Rules,
Jack Gerritsen is hereby NOTIFIED of this APPARENT LIABILITY
FOR A FORFEITURE in the amount of twenty-one thousand dollars
($21,000) for violations of Sections 321(b) and 333 of the
14. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Section
1.80 of the Commission's Rules within thirty days of the
release date of this Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture, Jack Gerritsen SHALL PAY the full amount of the
proposed forfeiture or SHALL FILE a written statement seeking
reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.
15. Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or
similar instrument, payable to the order of the Federal
Communications Commission. The payment must include the
NAL/Acct. No. and FRN No. referenced above. Payment by check
or money order may be mailed to Forfeiture Collection Section,
Finance Branch, Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box
73482, Chicago, Illinois 60673-7482. Payment by overnight mail
may be sent to Bank One/LB 73482, 525 West Monroe, 8th Floor
Mailroom, Chicago, IL 60661. Payment by wire transfer may be
made to ABA Number 071000013, receiving bank Bank One, and
account number 1165259.
16. The response, if any, must be mailed to Federal
Communications Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Western Region,
Los Angeles Office, 18000 Studebaker Rd, Suite 660, Cerritos,
CA, 90703 and must include the NAL/Acct. No. referenced in the
17. The Commission will not consider reducing or
canceling a forfeiture in response to a claim of inability to
pay unless the petitioner submits: (1) federal tax returns for
the most recent three-year period; (2) financial statements
prepared according to generally accepted accounting practices
("GAAP"); or (3) some other reliable and objective
documentation that accurately reflects the petitioner's current
financial status. Any claim of inability to pay must
specifically identify the basis for the claim by reference to
the financial documentation submitted.
20. Requests for payment of the full amount of this Notice
of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture under an installment plan
should be sent to: Chief, Revenue and Receivables Operations
Group, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.15
21. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Notice of
Apparent Liability for Forfeiture shall be sent by Certified
Mail, Return Receipt Requested, and regular mail, to Jack
Gerritsen, 6217 ½ Palm Avenue, Bell, CA, 90201.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Los Angeles District Office
147 U.S.C. §§ 321(b), 333.
247 U.S.C. § 503(b).
3See November 21, 2001, letter from W. Riley Hollingsworth,
Special Counsel, Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications
Commission, to Mr. Jack Gerritsen (``Enforcement Bureau
Letter''). The action was taken pursuant to Section 1.113(a) of
the Rules which states that ``within 30 days after public notice
has been given of any action taken pursuant to delegated
authority, the person, panel, or board taking the action may
modify or set it aside on its own motion.'' 47 C.F.R. §
4Enforcement Bureau Letter.
5During the emergency communications, the Officer identified
himself as ``W1HIJ'' and ``U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Upland
Radio One.'' The complainant identified herself as ``N6LNX.''
According to Commission records, both are authorized amateur
6Section 312(f)(1) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 312(f)(1), which
applies to violations for which forfeitures are assessed under
Section 503(b) of the Act, provides that "[t]he term 'willful',
when used with reference to the commission or omission of any
act, means the conscious and deliberate commission or omission of
such act, irrespective of any intent to violate any provision of
this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission authorized
by this Act...." See Southern California Broadcasting Co., 6 FCC
Rcd 4387 (1991).
7H.R. Rep. No. 101-316, at 13 (1989).
8U.S. v. Richard, (1998 WL 830654 (E.D. La.)). See also John B.
Genovese, 10 FCC Rcd 7594 (CIB 1995).
947 U.S.C. § 321(b). See also 47 C.F.R. § 2.401.
1047 C.F.R. § 97.101(a).
1112 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999);
47 C.F.R. §1.80.
1247 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(D).
1347 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(D); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(4); see also
Forfeiture Policy Statement, 12 FCC Rcd at 17100 - 01.
1447 U.S.C. §§ 321(b), 333, 503(b), 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311,
15See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.