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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of Bernard Veargis Miami, Florida ) ) ) ) ) ) File No.:
EB-FIELDSCR-12-00002077 NAL/Acct. No.: 201332600003 FRN: 0022469464
NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE
Adopted: February 25, 2013 Released: February 25, 2013
By the Resident Agent, Miami Office, South Central Region, Enforcement
1. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), we find
that Bernard Veargis apparently willfully and repeatedly violated
Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act),^ by
operating an unlicensed radio transmitter on the frequency 91.7 MHz in
Miami, Florida. We conclude that Mr. Veargis is apparently liable for
a forfeiture in the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000).
2. On March 14, 2012, as part of routine monitoring, agents from the
Enforcement Bureau's Miami Office (Miami Office) used
direction-finding techniques to locate the source of radio frequency
transmissions on the frequency 91.7 MHz to an FM transmitting antenna
mounted on a commercial building in Miami, Florida. The agents
determined that the signals on 91.7 MHz exceeded the limits for
operation under Part 15 of the Commission's rules (Rules)^ and,
therefore, required a license. The Commission's records showed that no
authorization was issued to anyone for operation of an FM broadcast
station at or near this address. In addition, on May 1, 2012, in
response to a complaint from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
of interference to aircraft using the Miami International Airport
(MIA) departure frequency 119.45 MHz,^ agents from the Miami Office
used direction-finding techniques to locate the source of radio
frequency transmissions on the frequency 119.45 MHz. The agents
determined that the source of the interference to FAA operations was
the FM transmitting antenna used by the same aforementioned unlicensed
FM broadcast station operating from a commercial building in Miami.
3. Given the public safety concern associated with interference to FAA
operations, the agents proceeded (on May 1, 2012) to inspect the
unlicensed station located in the commercial building. The agents, who
were accompanied by the building's property owner, observed an FM
transmitter connected via coaxial cable to an FM transmitting antenna
and laptop located inside the commercial building. The laptop's screen
showed that it was connected to an Internet Protocol (IP) address
"22.214.171.124:5450." The agents interviewed the property owner, who
stated that "Bernard" installed the transmitting equipment. The owner
also showed the agents a business card he received from "Bernard," but
the card reflected the name "Chico" with a handwritten telephone
number. The owner called the number, and then handed the telephone to
one of the agents. In speaking to the agent, Mr. Veargis a/k/a "Chico"
did not admit to being the operator of the station, but stated that he
ran the Internet side of the radio station. During the call, Mr.
Veargis gave the property owner permission to "destroy" the FM
transmitter. The property owner turned off the FM transmitter, and the
transmissions on the frequency 119.45 MHz terminated. The FAA reported
that the interference to the MIA departure frequency ceased after the
transmitter was turned off.
4. An agent from the Miami Office found additional information on the
Internet connecting Mr. Veargis to the unlicensed station. A webpage
with an IP address of "126.96.36.199:5450"--the same IP address
observed on the laptop that was discovered on the date of the
inspection--displayed "Chico the Leo Grown Folks Radio Miami" and
"www.chicotheleogrownfolksradio.com."^ The Florida Department of
State's Division of Corporations (Division of Corporations) has public
records that list Mr. Veargis as the owner of several businesses
including, but not limited to, "Chico's Corner Inc.," "Chico's Good `N
Plenty, Inc.," "Chico's Pay Station Inc.," "Grown Folks Night Out,
LLC," "The Grown Folks Night Out, LLC," "Grown Folks Unlimited, LLC,"
and "Kids Night Out, LLC." The telephone number that Mr. Veargis
listed on the various documents he filed with the Division of
Corporations for "Chico's Pay Station Inc.," "Grown Folks Night Out,
LLC," "Grown Folks Unlimited, LLC," and "The Grown Folks Night Out,
LLC" was the same number that the property owner used to call Mr.
Veargis a/k/a "Chico" on May 1, 2012.^ The agent also found additional
information advertising 91.7 FM and referencing the same telephone
number for Mr. Veargis on Facebook pages for "Chico Leo Grownfolks"
and "Chico The Leo Grown Folks Radio." ^ ^ On May 9, 2012, agents from
the Miami Office observed a van, parked in front of Mr. Veargis'
residence in Miami, advertising "Chico the Leo" and "Grown Folks" and,
again, listing the same telephone number for Mr. Veargis.
5. 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.^ 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.^ 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 Act,^ and
the Commission has so interpreted the term in the Section 503(b)
context.^ The Commission may also assess a forfeiture for violations
that are merely repeated, and not willful.^ The term "repeated" means
the commission or omission of such act more than once or for more than
A. Unlicensed Broadcast Operations
6. The evidence in this case is sufficient to establish that Mr. Veargis
violated Section 301 of the Act. Section 301 of the Act states 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 granted
under the provisions of the Act.^ On March 14 and May 1, 2012, agents
from the Miami Office determined that an unlicensed radio station on
the frequency 91.7 MHz was operating from a commercial building in
Miami, Florida. Based on the evidence adduced, we are convinced that
it was Mr. Veargis who was operating the unlicensed station. A review
of the Commission's records revealed that no license or authorization
was issued to Mr. Veargis or to anyone else to operate a radio station
on 91.7 MHz at this location. On May 1, 2012, the owner of the
property where the station was located stated that it was "Bernard"
(i.e., Bernard Veargis) who installed the radio transmitting
equipment. The property owner then placed the agent in contact with
someone named "Chico" during the inspection of the station. "Chico,"
who we have since determined was Mr. Veargis, acknowledged his
connection to the station and demonstrated ownership and control over
the FM transmitter by authorizing the property owner (during the call)
to destroy the transmitter on his behalf.^ The transmitter, once
disabled by the property owner, caused the interference to FAA
operations to immediately cease, thereby confirming the source of the
7. There is also ample information in state public records and on the
Internet connecting Mr. Veargis to the unlicensed station. The contact
telephone number that Mr. Veargis listed on several documents filed
with the Division of Corporations for the several businesses he owns
(e.g., "Chico's Corner Inc.," "Chico's Pay Station Inc.," "Grown Folks
Night Out, LLC," etc.) is the same number that the property owner used
to contact the owner (a.k.a. "Chico") of the radio transmitting
equipment on May 1, 2012.^ Further, the webpage showing the IP address
observed on the laptop connected to the transmitter (on the date of
the inspection) displayed the website,
www.chicotheleogrownfolksradio.com. On this point, agents from the
Miami Office later found many references on this and other websites to
a radio station operating on 91.7 MHz under variations of the names
"Chico" and "Grown Folks" and using Mr. Veargis' telephone number.
Agents from the Miami office also observed a van advertising "Chico
the Leo," "Grown Folks," and the telephone number for "Chico" parked
in front of Mr. Veargis' home. Based on the totality of the evidence,
we find that Mr. Veargis is the Disc Jockey "Chico Leo Grownfolks"
referenced on the aforementioned websites; that Mr. Veargis is the
person with whom the agents spoke on May 1, 2012 and who permitted the
property owner to "destroy" the FM transmitter; and that it was Mr.
Veargis who operated the unlicensed station. Because Mr. Veargis
consciously operated the station, and did so on more than one day, the
apparent violations of the Act were both willful and repeated. We
therefore conclude, based on the evidence before us, that Mr. Veargis
apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 301 of the Act by
operating radio transmission equipment without the required Commission
B. Proposed Forfeiture Amount
8. Pursuant to the Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Section
1.80 of the Commission's Rules, the base forfeiture amount for
operation without an instrument of authorization is $10,000.^ In
assessing the monetary forfeiture amount, we must also take into
account the statutory factors set forth in Section 503(b)(2)(E) of the
Act, which include the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of
the violations, 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.^ In doing so, we find that the
violations here warrant a proposed forfeiture above the base amount.
As the record reflects, Mr. Veargis' unlicensed operations on 91.7 MHz
produced a spurious signal on the frequency 119.45 MHz, which caused
harmful interference to aircraft departing from Miami International
Airport. Given the safety hazard to the operation of aircraft at the
Miami International Airport, we find that an upward adjustment of
$5,000 in the forfeiture is warranted.^ Applying the Forfeiture Policy
Statement, Section 1.80 of the Rules, and the statutory factors to the
instant case, we conclude that Mr. Veargis is apparently liable for a
forfeiture in the amount of $15,000.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
9. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.111, 0.204,
0.311, 0.314, and 1.80 of the Commission's rules, Bernard Veargis is
hereby NOTIFIED of this APPARENT LIABILITY FOR A FORFEITURE in the
amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) for violations of Section
301 of the Act.^
10. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 1.80 of the
Commission's rules, within thirty (30) calendar days of the release
date of this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, Bernard
Veargis SHALL PAY the full amount of the proposed forfeiture or SHALL
FILE a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the
11. Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or similar instrument,
wire transfer, or credit card, and must include the NAL/Account number
and FRN referenced above. Bernard Veargis will also send electronic
notification on the date said payment is made to SCR-Response@fcc.gov.
Regardless of the form of payment, a completed FCC Form 159
(Remittance Advice) must be submitted.^ When completing the FCC Form
159, enter the Account Number in block number 23A (call sign/other ID)
and enter the letters "FORF" in block number 24A (payment type
code). Below are additional instructions you should follow based on
the form of payment you select:
* Payment by check or money order must be made payable to the order of
the Federal Communications Commission. Such payments (along with the
completed Form 159) must be mailed to Federal Communications
Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent
via overnight mail to U.S. Bank - Government Lockbox #979088,
SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101.
* Payment by wire transfer must be made to ABA Number 021030004,
receiving bank TREAS/NYC, and Account Number 27000001. To complete
the wire transfer and ensure appropriate crediting of the wired funds,
a completed Form 159 must be faxed to U.S. Bank at (314) 418-4232 on
the same business day the wire transfer is initiated.
* Payment by credit card must be made by providing the required credit
card information on FCC Form 159 and signing and dating the Form 159
to authorize the credit card payment. The completed Form 159 must then
be mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St.
Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent via overnight mail to U.S. Bank -
Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St.
Louis, MO 63101.
12. Any request for full payment under an installment plan should be sent
to: Chief Financial Officer--Financial Operations, Federal
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room 1-A625,
Washington, D.C. 20554.^ If you have questions regarding payment
procedures, please contact the Financial Operations Group Help Desk by
phone, 1-877-480-3201, or by e-mail, ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov.
13. The written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the
proposed forfeiture, if any, must include a detailed factual statement
supported by appropriate documentation and affidavits pursuant to
Sections 1.16 and 1.80(f)(3) of the Rules.^ Mail the written statement
to Federal Communications Commission, Enforcement Bureau, South
Central Region, Miami Office, P.O. Box 520617, Miami, FL 33152-0617,
and include the NAL/Acct. No. referenced in the caption. Bernard
Veargis also shall e-mail the written response to
14. 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
15. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Notice of Apparent Liability
for Forfeiture shall be sent by both Certified Mail, Return Receipt
Requested, and First Class Mail to Bernard Veargis at his address of
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
South Central Region
^ 47 U.S.C. S 301.
^ Part 15 of the Rules sets out the conditions and technical requirements
under which certain radio transmission devices may be used without a
license. In relevant part, Section 15.239 of the Rules provides that
non-licensed broadcasting in the 88-108 MHz band is permitted only if the
field strength of the transmission does not exceed 250 mV/m at three
meters. 47 C.F.R. S 15.239.
^ The frequency 119.45 MHz lies within the 108-121.94 MHz band and is
listed as a restricted band in Section 15.205(a) of the Commission's
rules. 47 C.F.R. S 15.205(a).
^ See http://188.8.131.52:5450/ (cached on Google on May 11, 2012)
(last visited May 23, 2012).
^ Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations Homepage,
www.sunbiz.org (last visited May 22, 2012).
^ On May 2, 2012, an agent from the Miami Office searched Facebook and
found information on pages for "Chico Leo Grownfolks" and "Chico The Leo
Grown Folks Radio." A post made on April 28, 2012, on the page for "Chico
Leo Grownfolks" stated: "TUNE IN TO 91.7 I'M LIVE.....LISTEN." A website,
www.chicotheleogrownfolksradio.com, was also listed on the page for "Chico
Leo Grownfolks." A photograph of an advertisement on both Facebook pages
also stated: "RESERVATIONS CALL [XXX-XXX-XXXX] OR GO TO
WWW.CHICOTHELEOGROWNFOLKSRADIO.COM." (phone number omitted). A post made
on April 28 on the page for "Chico The Leo Grown Folks Radio" also stated:
"About to go live in a few. Miami lock it in on 91.7 . . . ."
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b).
^ 47 U.S.C. S 312(f)(1).
^ H.R. Rep. No. 97-765, 97^th Cong. 2d Sess. 51 (1982) ("This provision
[inserted in Section 312] defines the terms `willful' and `repeated' for
purposes of section 312, and for any other relevant section of the act
(e.g., Section 503) . . . . As defined[,] . . . `willful' means that the
licensee knew that he was doing the act in question, regardless of whether
there was an intent to violate the law. `Repeated' means more than once,
or where the act is continuous, for more than one day. Whether an act is
considered to be `continuous' would depend upon the circumstances in each
case. The definitions are intended primarily to clarify the language in
Sections 312 and 503, and are consistent with the Commission's application
of those terms . . . .").
^ See, e.g., Application for Review of Southern California Broadcasting
Co., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387, 4388 (1991), recons.
denied, 7 FCC Rcd 3454 (1992).
^ See, e.g., Callais Cablevision, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for
Monetary Forfeiture, 16 FCC Rcd 1359, 1362, para. 10 (2001) (Callais
Cablevision, Inc.) (proposing a forfeiture for, inter alia, a cable
television operator's repeated signal leakage).
^ Section 312(f)(2) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. S 312(f)(2), which also applies
to violations for which forfeitures are assessed under Section 503(b) of
the Act, provides that "[t]he term 'repeated', when used with reference to
the commission or omission of any act, means the commission or omission of
such act more than once or, if such commission or omission is continuous,
for more than one day." See Callais Cablevision, Inc., 16 FCC Rcd at
^ 47 U.S.C. S 301.
^ Even if Mr. Veargis denies broadcasting over the air and operating the
unlicensed station, the record supports finding that he otherwise had
control over the general conduct or management of the station for purposes
of finding a Section 301 violation. See 47 U.S.C. S 301. In this regard,
the word "operate" in Section 301 has been interpreted to mean both the
technical operation of the station, as well as "the general conduct or
management of a station as a whole, as distinct from the specific
technical work involved in the actual transmission of signals." See
Campbell v. United States, 167 F.2d 451, 453 (5th Cir. 1948) (comparing
the use of the words "operate" and "operation" in Sections 301, 307, and
318 of the Act, and concluding that the word "operate" as used in Section
301 of the Act means both the technical operation of the station as well
as the general conduct or management of the station). Accord Damian
Anthony Ojouku Allen, Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 27 FCC
Rcd 7956 (Enf. Bur. 2012) (concluding that Mr. Allen operated an
unlicensed station because he exercised control over the general conduct
or management of the station), aff'd, Forfeiture Order, 27 FCC Rcd 14001
(Enf. Bur. 2012).
^ See supra note 5. See also Transmittal Letters for "Grown Folks Night
Out, LLC" and "The Grown Folks Night Out, LLC" filed with the Florida
Department of State's Division of Corporations, August 15, 2005;
Transmittal Letter for "Grown Folks Unlimited, LLC" filed with the Florida
Department of State's Division of Corporations, September 5, 2005; and
Articles of Incorporation for Chico's Pay Station Inc. filed with the
Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations, August 6, 2010.
^ The 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 (1997) (Forfeiture Policy Statement), recons.
denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999); 47 C.F.R. S 1.80.
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b)(2)(E).
^ See, e.g., Robens Cheriza, Forfeiture Order, 27 FCC Rcd 3198 (Enf. Bur.
2012), aff'g, Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 27 FCC Rcd 493
(Enf. Bur. 2012) (upwardly adjusting proposed forfeiture because of
interference caused to FAA operations).
^ 47 U.S.C. SS 301, 503(b); 47 C.F.R. SS 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, 1.80.
^ An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be
obtained at http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
^ See 47 C.F.R. S 1.1914.
^ 47 C.F.R. SS 1.16, 1.80(f)(3).
Federal Communications Commission DA 13-278
Federal Communications Commission DA 13-278