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                         Before the
              Federal Communications Commission
                   Washington, D.C. 20554


In the Matter of                  )   File No. EB-04-IH-0525
                                 )
Blackstone Calling Card, Inc.     )   NAL/Acct. No. 20063208009
                                 )
Apparent      Liability      for  )
Forfeiture


    NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE AND ORDER


Adopted:  December 16, 2005                        Released: 
December 19, 2005

By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:

I.      INTRODUCTION     

     1.  In this Notice of Apparent Liability for 
Forfeiture and Order (``NAL''), we find that Blackstone 
Calling Card, Inc.  (``Blackstone'') apparently violated 
Commission orders by willfully and repeatedly failing to 
respond to directives of the Enforcement Bureau (``Bureau'') 
to provide certain information and documents.  Based on our 
review of the facts and circumstances of this case, and for 
the reasons discussed below, we find that Blackstone is 
apparently liable for a monetary forfeiture in the amount of 
$20,000.

II.     BACKGROUND 

     2.   Blackstone is a Florida-based company that 
characterizes itself as ``one of the country's largest 
providers of prepaid telecommunications products and 
services.''1  Blackstone offers various services and 
products to the public, including a variety of prepaid 
calling cards.2  On its website, Blackstone offers 
Blackstone-labeled calling cards, among other products, 
directly to the public for a fee.3 

     3.   On March 30, 2004, Bureau staff sent a letter to 
Blackstone requesting information pertaining to Blackstone's 
compliance with section 64.1195 of the Commission's rules.4  
Blackstone provided certain contact information requested 
and an unsupported statement that ``Blackstone Calling Card, 
Inc., is not a carrier.''5

     4.   After determining that Blackstone appeared to have 
failed to timely register with the Commission or timely file 
required Telecommunications Reporting Worksheets 
(``Worksheets''), the Bureau issued a letter of inquiry 
(``LOI'') to Blackstone on October 21, 2004.6  The LOI 
directed Blackstone, among other things, to submit a sworn 
written response to a series of questions relating to 
Blackstone's apparent failure to register and file 
Worksheets and to make mandated federal telecommunications 
regulatory program payments.  On December 20, 2004, 
Blackstone provided an incomplete response to the LOI and 
stated that Blackstone ``has never provided any 
telecommunications services,'' ``is not required'' to file 
Worksheets, contribute to the federal universal service fund 
(``USF''), or pay regulatory fees, and ``is solely a 
distributor of prepaid phone cards.''7  Contrary to the 
directions of the LOI, however, Blackstone did not provide 
financial statements, tax returns, or specific 
identification of its alleged non-telecommunications 
products, services and associated revenue.  In addition, the 
certification Blackstone supplied to support its response 
did not contain a statement that it was made under penalty 
of perjury and thus failed to conform to Commission Rule 
1.16, 47 C.F.R.  1.16, as required in the LOI.8  

     5.   As a result of Blackstone's inadequate and 
incomplete response, the Bureau was compelled to send a 
second LOI to Blackstone on June 28, 2005, requesting 
additional information that would permit the Bureau to 
examine Blackstone's claim, directing it to provide complete 
responses to inquiries in the original LOI, and agreeing to 
hold in abeyance other pending inquiries until the Bureau 
reviewed the additional responses.  The June 2005 LOI also 
warned Blackstone that its failure to respond fully to the 
Bureau's LOI could subject Blackstone to potential 
enforcement action.9  Blackstone failed to respond to the 
June 28, 2005 LOI in any manner.  Blackstone also failed to 
respond to telephone messages left by Bureau staff regarding 
Blackstone's continuing failure to respond.  To date, the 
Bureau has not received from Blackstone a complete response 
to the October 21, 2004 LOI or any response to the June 28, 
2005 LOI.

III.          DISCUSSION

    A.    Apparent Violation

     6.   Under section 503(b)(1) of the Communications Act 
of 1934, as amended (the ``Act''), any person who is 
determined by the Commission to have willfully or repeatedly 
failed to comply with any provision of the Act or any rule, 
regulation, or order issued by the Commission shall be 
liable to the United States for a forfeiture penalty.10  
Section 312(f)(1) of the Act defines willful as ``the 
conscious and deliberate commission or omission of [any] 
act, irrespective of any intent to violate'' the law.11  The 
legislative history to section 312(f)(1) of the Act 
clarifies that this definition of willful applies to both 
sections 312 and 503(b) of the Act12 and the Commission has 
so interpreted the term in the section 503(b) context.13  
The Commission may also assess a forfeiture for violations 
that are merely repeated, and not willful.14  ``Repeated'' 
means that the act was committed or omitted more than once, 
or lasts more than one day.15  To impose such a forfeiture 
penalty, the Commission must issue a notice of apparent 
liability and the person against whom the notice has been 
issued must have an opportunity to show, in writing, why no 
such forfeiture penalty should be imposed.16  The Commission 
will then issue a forfeiture if it finds by a preponderance 
of the evidence that the person has willfully or repeatedly 
violated the Act or a Commission order or rule.17  

     7.      Sections 4(i), 4(j), 218, and 403 of the Act 
afford the Commission broad authority to investigate the 
entities it regulates.  Section 4(i) authorizes the 
Commission to ``issue such orders, not inconsistent with 
this Act, as may be necessary in the execution of its 
functions,'' and section 4(j) states that ``the Commission 
may conduct its proceedings in such manner as will best 
conduce to the proper dispatch of business and to the ends 
of justice.''  Section 403 of the Act grants the Commission 
``full authority and power at any time to institute an 
inquiry, on its own motion . . . relating to the enforcement 
of any of the provisions of this Act.''18  

     8.   We first conclude that under the Act and 
Commission rules Blackstone is a carrier providing 
telecommunications services.  Blackstone stated in its 
partial LOI response that it is solely a distributor of 
carriers' prepaid phone cards and made the unsubstantiated 
assertion that Blackstone itself  has never provided 
telecommunications service.19  Blackstone, however, failed 
to provide documentation to support that assertion and, 
because it did not respond to the Bureau's follow-up LOI, 
Blackstone did not provide any documents or information in 
response to that LOI that allowed the Bureau to substantiate 
its assertion.  In the absence of such substantiating 
evidence, contrary to Blackstone's assertion, we conclude it 
is a provider of telecommunications services.  Under the 
Act, telecommunications service is ``the offering of 
telecommunications for a fee directly to the public . . . 
regardless of the facilities used.''20  Additionally, the 
Act defines a telecommunications carrier as any provider of 
telecommunications services.21  In this regard, the 
Commission has long held that calling card providers are 
providing telecommunications services.22  Based on 
information collected in this investigation, we know that 
Blackstone apparently offers telecommunications service for 
a fee directly to the public, for example, by offering 
interstate and international telecommunications service 
through Blackstone-labeled calling cards marketed on its 
website.  Thus, it appears Blackstone is providing 
telecommunications services.  We therefore find that 
Blackstone is a carrier providing telecommunications service 
and subject to the regulations governing all such 
carriers.23

     9.   We next find that Blackstone apparently violated 
Commission orders by failing on multiple occasions to 
respond to Bureau inquiries.  Section 218 of the Act 
specifically authorizes the Commission to ``obtain from  . . 
.  carriers   . . . full and complete information necessary 
to enable the Commission to perform the duties and carry out 
the objects for which it was created.''24  Sections 4(i), 
4(j), and 403 of the Act unequivocally grant the Commission 
the power to direct responses to inquires in order to 
execute its functions.25  As indicated above, the Bureau 
directed Blackstone to provide certain documents and 
information to enable the Commission to perform its 
enforcement function and evaluate allegations that 
Blackstone violated Commission rules.  Blackstone received 
both LOIs.  Blackstone received the October 21, 2004 LOI as 
evidenced by its own incomplete response. Blackstone also 
received the June 28, 2005 LOI, sent by the Bureau via U.S. 
mail and by facsimile to the facsimile number provided by 
Blackstone in response to the March 30 Audit Letter, as 
evidenced by confirmation of the facsimile transmission.  
Further, in July 2005, Bureau staff took the additional step 
of attempting to contact Blackstone by telephone.  Staff 
left messages with Blackstone employees for the President 
and Chief Executive Officer of Blackstone, Luis Arias, 
addressee of the LOIs and signatory of Blackstone's 
incomplete response to the first LOI.  In those messages, 
Bureau staff specifically stated that the Bureau had not 
received the required response to the June 2005 LOI.  
Despite the Bureau's significant efforts to elicit 
information from Blackstone, as of the date of this NAL, 
Blackstone has failed to provide a complete response to the 
Bureau's first LOI and failed to respond to the Bureau's 
second LOI at all.  We conclude that Blackstone's continuing 
failure to respond to the Bureau's LOIs constitutes an 
apparent willful and repeated violation of Commission 
orders.26    

     III.A.    Forfeiture Amount

     10.  Section 503(b)(1) of the Act provides that any 
person that willfully or repeatedly fails to comply with any 
provision of the Act or any rule, regulation, or order 
issued by the Commission, shall be liable to the United 
States for a forfeiture penalty.27  Section 503(b)(2)(B) of 
the Act authorizes the Commission to assess a forfeiture of 
up to $130,000 for each violation or each day of a 
continuing violation, up to a statutory maximum of 
$1,325,000 for a single act or failure to act.28  In 
determining the appropriate forfeiture amount, we consider 
the factors enumerated in section 503(b)(2)(D) of the Act, 
including ``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 such other matters as justice may 
require.''29

     11.  Section 1.80 of the Commission's rules and the 
Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement establish a base 
forfeiture amount of $3,000 for failure to file required 
forms or information, and $4,000 for failure to respond to a 
Commission communication.30  Blackstone's failures to 
respond occurred despite attempts by Bureau staff to call 
Blackstone's attention to the importance of responding to 
LOIs.  We find that the lack of a complete response to the 
first LOI and the total failure to respond to the second 
LOI, notwithstanding the Bureau's significant efforts to 
contact Blackstone executives, warrants a substantial 
increase to this base amount.  Misconduct of this type 
exhibits a disregard for the Commission's authority and, 
more importantly, threatens to compromise the Commission's 
ability to adequately investigate violations of its rules.  
In this case, such misconduct inhibits our ability 
adequately to detect and deter potential rule violations in 
an area of critical importance to the Commission -- 
contributions to the USF.  Prompt and full responses to 
Bureau inquiry letters are critical to the Commission's 
enforcement function.  We therefore propose a total 
forfeiture against Blackstone of $20,000 for failing to 
respond to Commission communications.  This forfeiture 
amount is consistent with recent precedent in similar cases, 
where companies failed to provide responses to LOIs 
concerning compliance with the Commission's universal 
service rules despite evidence that the LOIs had been 
received.31

     12.  We also direct Blackstone to respond fully to the 
December 2004 and June 2005 LOIs within thirty days of the 
release of this order.  Failure to do so may constitute an 
additional violation potentially subjecting Blackstone to 
further penalties, including potentially higher monetary 
forfeitures, the revocation of operating authority, and the 
disqualification of Luis Arias and any other Blackstone 
principal from the provision of any common carrier services 
without the prior consent of the Commission.32

IV.       ORDERING CLAUSES

     13.  ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED THAT, pursuant to 
section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as 
amended, 47 U.S.C.  503(b), and section 1.80 of the 
Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.80, Blackstone Calling 
Card, Inc., is hereby NOTIFIED of its APPARENT LIABILITY FOR 
FORFEITURE in the amount of $20,000 for willfully and 
repeatedly violating Commission orders.

     14.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT, pursuant to section 
1.80 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R.  1.80, within 
thirty days of the release date of this NOTICE OF APPARENT 
LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE, Blackstone Calling Card, Inc., 
SHALL PAY the full amount of the proposed forfeiture 
currently outstanding on that date 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 Federal Communications 
Commission, P.O. Box 358340, Pittsburgh, PA 15251-8340.  
Payment by overnight mail may be sent to Mellon Bank /LB 
358340, 500 Ross Street, Room 1540670, Pittsburgh, PA 15251.   
Payment by wire transfer may be made to ABA Number 
043000261, receiving bank Mellon Bank, and account number 
911-6106.

     16.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that pursuant to sections 
4(i), 4(j), 218 and 403 of the of the Communications Act of 
1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C.  4(i), 4(j), 218 and 403, and 
section 54.711 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R.  
54.711, Blackstone Calling Card, Inc., shall fully respond 
to the October 2004 and June 2005 Letters of Inquiry sent by 
the FCC's Enforcement Bureau within 30 days of the release 
of this order.

     17.  The response, if any, to this NOTICE OF APPARENT 
LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE must be mailed to William H. 
Davenport, Chief, Investigations and Hearings Division, 
Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, 445 
12th Street, S.W., Suite 4-C330, Washington, D.C.  20554 and 
must include the NAL/Acct. No. referenced above.  E-mail 
address:  william.davenport@fcc.gov.    

     18.  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.

     19.  Requests for payment of the full amount of this 
NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE under an 
installment plan should be sent to Associate Managing 
Director -- Financial Operations, Room 1A625, 445 12th 
Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., 20554.

     20.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT a copy of this NOTICE 
OF APPARENT LIABILITY shall be sent, by certified 
mail/return receipt requested to Mr. Luis Arias, President, 
Blackstone Calling Card, Inc., 11600 N.W. 34th Street, 
Miami, Florida, 33178.        


                         FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION



                         Kris Anne Monteith
                         Chief, Enforcement Bureau 
_________________________

1 www.blackstoneonline.com.

2 See id.

3   See  id.    Blackstone-labeled  calling   cards  direct 
customers to Blackstone's website  to obtain assistance and 
information regarding card services.

4 See letter from Hugh Boyle, Chief Auditor, Investigations 
and  Hearings Division,  Enforcement Bureau,  to Blackstone 
dated March 30, 2004 (``March 30 Audit Letter'').  

5  Electronic   mail  message  from  Tania   Diblin,  Legal 
Assistant, Blackstone, dated April 16, 2004.

6   Letter  from   Hillary   S.   DeNigro,  Deputy   Chief, 
Investigations and  Hearings Division,  Enforcement Bureau, 
to Luis Arias, Blackstone, dated October 21, 2004.  The LOI 
specifically  required   Blackstone  to   provide  relevant 
information with  respect to Blackstone and  any affiliate, 
predecessor-in-interest,   parent    company,   subsidiary, 
director, officer, employee, and agent.

7  Letter from  Luis Arias,  Blackstone, to  Carla Conover, 
Investigations and  Hearings Division,  Enforcement Bureau, 
dated December 20, 2004 (``Incomplete Response'').    

8 Failure  to provide a  sworn statement supporting  an LOI 
response can,  by itself, subject an  entity to enforcement 
action.   See, e.g.,  SBC Communications,  Inc., Forfeiture 
Order, 17 FCC Rcd 7589 (2002) (``SBC Forfeiture Order'').

9   Letter  from   Hillary   S.   DeNigro,  Deputy   Chief, 
Investigations and  Hearings Division,  Enforcement Bureau, 
to   Luis  Arias,   Blackstone,   dated   June  28,   2005.  
Blackstone's receipt of the letter is shown by confirmation 
of the  facsimile transmission to the  Blackstone facsimile 
number supplied by  Blackstone in response to  the March 30 
Audit Letter and to which both LOIs were sent.

10 47  U.S.C.  503(b)(1)(B);  47 C.F.R.   1.80(a)(1); see 
also 47 U.S.C.  503(b)(1)(D) (forfeitures for violation of 
14 U.S.C.  1464).  

11 47 U.S.C.  312(f)(1).

12 H.R. Rep. No. 97-765, 97th Cong. 2d Sess. 51 (1982).

13 See, e.g., Application for Review of Southern California 
Broadcasting Co.,  Memorandum Opinion and Order,  6 FCC Rcd 
4387,  4388  (1991)   (``Southern  California  Broadcasting 
Co.'').

14  See,  e.g.,  Callais  Cablevision,  Inc.,  Grand  Isle, 
Louisiana,  Notice  of   Apparent  Liability  for  Monetary 
Forfeiture, 16 FCC  Rcd 1359, 1362,   10 (2001) (``Callais 
Cablevision'') (issuing a Notice of Apparent Liability for, 
inter alia,  a cable television operator's  repeated signal 
leakage). 

15 Southern California Broadcasting Co., 6 FCC Rcd at 4388, 
 5; Callais Cablevision, Inc., 16 FCC Rcd at 1362,  9.

16 47 U.S.C.  503(b); 47 C.F.R.  1.80(f).

17 See, e.g., SBC Communications, Inc., 17 FCC Rcd at 7591.

18 47 U.S.C.  403.  See also 47 U.S.C.  154(i), (j).

19 Incomplete Response, p.1.

20 47 U.S.C.  153(46).

21 Id.,  153(44).

22  See,   e.g.,  AT&T  Petition  for   Declaratory  Ruling 
Regarding   Enhanced   Prepaid   Calling   Card   Services, 
Regulation  of Prepaid  Calling  Card  Services, Order  and 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 20 FCC Rcd 4826 (2005); Time 
Machine, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 11 FCC Rcd 1186 (CCB 
1995).

23  We   specifically  preserve   our  ability   to  pursue 
additional enforcement action based on Blackstone's failure 
to satisfy the requirements of the Act or Commission rules.

24 47 U.S.C.  218.

25 47 U.S.C.  154(i),(j), & 403.

26 See,  e.g., SBC  Forfeiture Order, 17  FCC Rcd  at 7599-
7600,  23-28 (ordering  $100,000 forfeiture for egregious 
and intentional failure to certify the response to a Bureau 
inquiry); Globcom,  Inc., Notice of Apparent  Liability for 
Forfeiture and Order, 18 FCC  Rcd 19893, 19898 n. 36 (2003) 
(noting delayed  response to an LOI  is considered dilatory 
behavior which may result  in future sanctions); BigZoo.Com 
Corporation,  Notice of  Apparent liability  for Forfeiture 
and  Order,  19  FCC  24437  (Enf.  Bur.  2004),  Order  of 
Forfeiture, 20  FCC Rcd 3954 (Enf.  Bur. 2005) (``BigZoo'') 
(ordering $20,000  forfeiture for failure to  respond to an 
LOI);  American  Family  Association, Licensee  of  Station 
KBMP(FM), Enterprise, Kansas,  Notice of Apparent Liability 
for Forfeiture, 19 FCC Rcd  14072, Forfeiture Order, 19 FCC 
Rcd  22025 (Enf.  Bur.  2004)  (ordering $3,000  forfeiture 
against  non-commercial educational  station for  a partial 
response  to   an  LOI);  World   Communications  Satellite 
Systems, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 
18  FCC  Rcd  18545  (Enf. Bur.  2003)  (proposing  $10,000 
forfeiture for  non-responsive reply to an  LOI); Donald W. 
Kaminski, Jr., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 
16 FCC Rcd 10707 (Enf. Bur. 2001), Forfeiture Order, 18 FCC 
Rcd 26065 (Enf. Bur.  2003) (ordering $4,000 forfeiture for 
individual's failure to respond to an LOI).

27 47 U.S.C.  503(b)(1)(B); 47 C.F.R.  1.80(a)(2).

28  47  U.S.C.    503(b)(2)(B).   See  also  47  C.F.R.   
1.80(b)(2);   Amendment   of   Section   1.80(b)   of   the 
Commission's  Rules,  Adjustment  of Forfeiture  Maxima  to 
Reflect Inflation, Order, 19 FCC Rcd 10945 (2004). 

2947 U.S.C.  503(b)(2)(D).

30  47  C.F.R.     1.80;  Commission's  Forfeiture  Policy 
Statement and  Amendment of  Section 1.80  of the  Rules to 
Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines, Report and Order, 12 
FCC   Rcd   17087,   17114  (1997)   (``Forfeiture   Policy 
Statement''), recon. denied 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999).

31  See  BigZoo,  20  FCC Rcd  at  3955  (ordering  $20,000 
forfeiture  for  failure  to  respond  to  LOI);  QuickLink 
Telecom, Inc., Order of Forfeiture,  20 FCC Rcd 14464 (Enf. 
Bur. 2005) (same).

32 See,  e.g., Business  Options, Inc., Consent  Decree, 19 
FCC  Rcd 2916  (2003); NOS  Communications, Inc.,  Affinity 
Network Incorporated and NOSVA Limited Partnership, Consent 
Decree, 2003 WL 22439710 (2003).