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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Shepler's, Inc. ) File No.
Mackinaw City, Michigan )
) NAL/Acct. No.
Adopted: July 25, 2001 Released: July
By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Forfeiture Order (``Order''), we issue a
monetary forfeiture in the amount of $2,200 to Shepler's, Inc.
(``Shepler's'') for violation of the Great Lakes Agreement1
(``GLA'') and Sections 80.953(a) and 80.953(b) the Commission's
Rules2 (``Rules''). The noted violations involve navigation of
the vessels Captain Shepler and Wyandot without the required
annual inspection and certification of their marine VHF
2. On March 27, 2001, the Commission's Detroit, Michigan,
District Office (``Detroit Office'') issued a Notice of Apparent
Liability (``NAL'') in the amount of $2,200 to Shepler's for the
noted violations.3 Shepler's responded to the NAL by letter
dated April 2, 2001.
3. The radiotelephone apparatus aboard vessels subject to
the GLA must be inspected at least once every 13 months and
certified as compliant with requirements of the GLA and the
Bridge-to-Bridge Act.4 See Article XII of the GLA and Sections
80.953(a) and 80.953(b) of the Rules.
4. Shepler's is the owner of the vessels Captain Shepler
and Wyandot, which carry passengers on the Great Lakes between
Mackinac Island, Michigan, and Mackinaw City, Michigan. Both
vessels exceed 65 feet in length and are, therefore, subject to
the GLA. See Article V of the GLA and Section 80.951(a) of the
5. On September 28, 2000, an FCC agent (``Agent'') from the
Detroit Office observed the Captain Shepler returning from a
voyage on the Great Lakes. The Agent inspected5 the
radiotelephone installation aboard the Captain Shepler and
determined that the vessel did not have a current GLA safety
certification. On the same date, the Agent inspected the
radiotelephone installation aboard the Wyandot and determined
that the Wyandot also did not have a current GLA safety
6. On October 31, 2000, the Detroit Office issued an
Official Notice of Violation (``NOV'') to Shepler's for violation
of Section 80.953(b) of the Rules. Shepler's provided, with its
response to the NOV, copies of radiotelephone logs indicating
that an authorized inspector inspected and certified the radio
apparatus aboard the Captain Shepler and the Wyandot as compliant
on October 4, 2000.
7. In March 2001, the Detroit Office requested that
Shepler's furnish copies of the Captain Shepler's and the
Wyandot's radio station logs from the period before September 28,
2000. Shepler's provided copies of these logs. The logs
indicate that the Captain Shepler was navigated on September 18,
19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24, 2000, and the Wyandot was navigated
on September 20, 22, and 24, 2000.
8. In its response to the NAL issued March 27, 2001,
Shepler's requests remission of the monetary forfeiture.
9. The Enforcement Bureau assessed the proposed forfeiture
amount in this case in accordance with Section 506(a) of the
Act,6 Section 1.80 of the Rules,7 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) (``Policy Statement'').
Section 1.80(b)(4) of the Commissions Rules,8 requires that the
Commission, in examining Shepler's's response, 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.
10. Shepler's does not deny navigating the Captain Shepler
and the Wyandot on the Great Lakes without a current GLA safety
inspection and certification. On the basis of all the
information available to us, we conclude that Shepler's navigated
the Captain Shepler on September 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and
28, 2000, and the Wyandot on September 20, 22, and 24, 2000, in
the Great Lakes without the required annual inspection and
certification of their marine VHF radiotelephone equipment, in
violation of the Great Lakes Agreement and Sections 80.953(a) and
80.953(b) of the Rules.
11. In the NAL, the Detroit Office mitigated the statutory
forfeiture amount of $6,050 to $2,200 on the basis of Shepler's
good faith and history of overall compliance. In its response to
the NAL, Shepler's seeks remission of the proposed $2,200
forfeiture. Shepler's argues that its violations resulted from
an ``oversight'' by its newly appointed senior captain, who
believed that his predecessor had obtained GLA certifications for
Shepler's entire fleet. This circumstance does not mitigate
Shepler's violations. Navigation without a valid GLA
certification increases the risk to the safety of life and,
therefore, is a significant violation. Shepler's also argues
that, in 45 years of service, it has never before violated the
Commission's Rules. However, the forfeiture amount specified by
the NAL already reflects Shepler's history of overall compliance.
Thus, Shepler's arguments do not justify remission of the
proposed forfeiture or any further mitigation. We have examined
Shepler's response to the NAL in light of the factors specified
in the Policy Statement and in Section 1.80(b)(4) of the Rules
and we conclude that $2,200 is the proper forfeiture amount.
IV. Ordering Clauses
12. ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED THAT, pursuant to Section
506(a) of the Act,9 and Sections 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80(f)(4) of
the Commission's Rules,10 Shepler's IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY
FORFEITURE in the amount of $2,200 for violation of the Great
Lakes Agreement and Sections 80.953(a) and 80.953(b) the
13. Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner
provided for in Section 1.80 of the Commission's Rules11 within
30 days of the release of this Order. If the forfeiture is not
paid within the period specified, the case may be referred to the
Department of Justice for collection pursuant to Section 504(a)
of the Act.12 Payment may be made by mailing a check or similar
instrument, payable to the order of the ``Federal Communications
Commission,'' to the Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box
73482, Chicago, Illinois 60673-7482. The payment should note
``NAL/Acct. No. 200132360002,'' referenced above. Requests for
full payment under an installment plan should be sent to:
Revenue and Receivables Operations Group, 445 12th Street, S.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20554.13
14. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this order shall
be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to
Shepler's, Inc., P.O. Box 250, Mackinaw City, Michigan 49701.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
David H. Solomon
Chief, Enforcement Bureau
1 Agreement Between Canada and the United States for the
Promotion of Safety on the Great Lakes by Means of Radio, April
26, 1973, US.-Canada, 25 UST 935, T.I.A.S. 7837, amended 30 UST
2523, T.I.A.S. 9352.
2 47 C.F.R. §§ 80.953(a) and (b).
3 An erratum was issued April 6, 2001.
4 33 U.S.C. §§ 24.1201-1208.
5 Although the required annual inspections of radio
installations aboard vessels subject to the provisions of the
Great Lakes Agreement have been privatized, the FCC conducts
spot-check inspections, such as the inspection in this case, to
6 47 U.S.C. § 506(a).
7 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
8 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(4).
9 47 U.S.C. § 506(a).
10 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80(f)(4).
11 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
12 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).
13 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.