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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
) File No. EB-02-PA-105
Amethyst International, Inc. )
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey) NAL/Acct. No.
) FRN 0006-8162-01
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Adopted: June 20, 2003 Released: June 24, 2003
By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Memorandum Opinion and Order (``Order''), we
cancel the proposed monetary forfeiture in the amount of ten
thousand dollars ($10,000), issued to Amethyst International,
Inc. (``Amethyst'') for its apparent willful violation of Section
301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (``Act'').1
However, we admonish Amethyst for the violation which caused
harmful interference to the Coast Guard.
2. On June 5, 2002, the Commission's Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, Field Office (``Philadelphia Office'') issued a
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (``NAL'')2 to
Amethyst in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Amethyst filed a response to the NAL on July 8, 2002.
3. On February 25, 2002, a Commission agent from the
Philadelphia Office received a call from the United
States Coast Guard advising him that a constant signal
was being transmitted on VHF Marine Channel 16 (156.8
MHz). The signal, which had been on the air for
approximately two hours, was causing harmful
interference, affecting the ability of Coast Guard
Stations Manasquan and Barnegat Light, New Jersey, to
monitor channel 16 for transmissions from vessels in
4. On February 25, 2002 at approximately 8:45 p.m., two
agents from the Philadelphia office located the source of
the signal transmitting on 156.8 MHz by using mobile
direction finding techniques. The agents determined that
the signal was emanating from the Beach Motel at 202
Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. Inside
the motel lobby, the agents discovered a Realistic MTX-
100 marine radio and noted that it was transmitting on
Marine Channel 16 (156.8 MHz). The microphone was wedged
between the body of the radio and the counter, causing a
constant signal. At approximately 9:00 p.m., Mr. John
Fernicola, the owner of the motel, arrived. Mr.
Fernicola disconnected and removed the radio. Mr.
Fernicola acknowledged that neither he nor Amethyst had a
license to operate a coast station in the Maritime Radio
5. On February 26, 2002, the Philadelphia Office sent
Amethyst a warning letter which explained that operation
of the unlicensed marine coast station on frequency 156.8
MHz at the Beach Motel violated Section 301 of the Act.
The letter also outlined the potential penalties for
operating the unlicensed station, which included seizure
of the equipment, fines, and imprisonment. On March 4,
2002, Amethyst submitted a response to the warning
6. On June 5, 2002, the Philadelphia Office issued a NAL
to Amethyst for its unlicensed operation of a marine
coast station on VHF Marine Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) in
violation of Section 301 of the Act. On July 8, 2002,
Amethyst filed a response to the NAL in which it requests
cancellation or reduction of the proposed forfeiture.
7. The forfeiture amount in this case was proposed in
accordance with Section 503(b) of the Act,3 Section 1.80 of the
Commission's Rules (``Rules''),4 and The Commission's Forfeiture
Policy Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Rules to
Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines, 12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997),
recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999). In examining Amethyst's
response, Section 503(b) of the Act requires that the Commission
take into account the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity
of the violation and, with respect to the violator, the degree of
culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and
other such matters as justice may require.5
8. Section 301 of the Act sets forth the general mandate
that no person shall use or operate any apparatus for the
transmission of energy or communications or signals by radio
within the United States except under and in accordance with the
Act and with a license. Further, Section 80.13 of the Rules
requires that any land station operating in the Maritime Radio
Service be licensed.6 On February 25, 2002, Amethyst operated a
marine coast station on Marine Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) which
adversely affected the Coast Guard's ability to monitor for
transmissions from vessels in distress, and it did so without a
9. In its response, Amethyst states that, contrary to what
is stated in the NAL, it did not admit responsibility or
guilt in its response to the warning letter and that its
response clearly denies any willful intent to violate the
rules. In fact, Amethyst posits that this singular
incidence of interference resulted from a purely
accidental and inadvertent activation of the radio
transmitter, that Amethyst did not install the equipment
and that it did not even intend its presence at the Beach
Motel. Amethyst also asserts that it has never
authorized the use of the equipment by any employee for
any purpose, that the equipment was in existence as found
when Amethyst assumed operations of the Beach Motel, that
it believed the power supply to the radio had been
disconnected and that any operation of the equipment was
impossible. Amethyst further asserts that it provides
each front desk clerk and manager with a published set of
rules specifically disallowing the use of cellular
phones, personal communications equipment, radios or any
other equipment other than the front desk switch board
and reservation system. Additionally, Amethyst points
out that there is no allegation that this was anything
but a singular event or that the transmission alleged to
have emanated from the Beach Motel contained any audible
transmissions. Furthermore, Amethyst asserts that it
immediately removed the equipment, that it has no prior
history of violations with the FCC, and that the
forfeiture amount is excessive. Finally, Amethyst states
that it was never its intention to maintain a transmitter
at this location for any purpose and that Amethyst's
previous statement, that the equipment was for monitoring
purposes only, reflected the inferences made by the two
field agents about why the previous owner probably
installed the equipment and that the statement did not
represent Amethyst's purpose or motive in leaving the
equipment as found.
10. After considering the totality of Amethyst's response
to the NAL, specifically the good faith steps taken by Amethyst
to ensure that the radio was not used, we believe that
cancellation of the forfeiture is appropriate. Nevertheless, we
find that it is also appropriate to admonish Amethyst for its
violation of Section 301 of the Act, which caused harmful
interference to Coast Guard operations.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
11. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED THAT, pursuant to Section
0.111, 0.311, and 1.80(f)(4) of the Rules,7 the forfeiture in the
amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) proposed in the June 5,
2002 NAL issued to Amethyst International, Inc. IS CANCELLED.
12. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Amethyst IS ADMONISHED for
its unlicensed operation of a marine coast station on VHF Marine
Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) from the Beach Motel in Point Pleasant
Beach, New Jersey on February 25, 2002, which caused harmful
interference to the Coast Guard.
13. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall
be sent by first class and Certified Mail Return Receipt
Requested to Amethyst International, Inc., 202 Arnold Avenue,
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey 08742.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
David H. Solomon
Chief, Enforcement Bureau
1 47 U.S.C. § 301.
2 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No.
200232400002 (Enf. Bur., Philadelphia Office, released June 5,
3 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
4 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
5 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(D).
6 47 C.F.R. § 80.13.
7 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311, 1.80(f)(4).