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Alleged Interference Nets Ham Radio Operator $18,000 Proposed Forfeiture

FCC said alleged violations warrant “a significant penalty”

WASHINGTON — An amateur radio operator has come to the attention of the Federal Communications Commission for allegedly breaking FCC ham radio rules.

On July 24, the Enforcement Bureau issued a notice of apparent liability for forfeiture to the tune of $18,000 to Jerry W. Materne. The FCC proposed the penalty after it said that Materne caused intentional interference and failed to provide station identification on amateur radio frequencies.

Given Materne’s history as an alleged repeat offender, the FCC said his alleged violations warrant what the FCC called “a significant penalty.”

The FCC said it received numerous complaints alleging that Materne — who is licensee of amateur radio station KC5CSG in Lake Charles, La., — had caused interference to a local amateur repeater in Lake Charles and was preventing other amateur licensees from using the repeater.

The trustee of the local repeater took action against Materne’s alleged interference by telling him in March 2017 that he would no longer be authorized to use the W5BII amateur repeater. Soon after the FCC issued a Letter of Inquiry in May asking Materne to address the complaints.

Materne responded and denied that he was causing interference though he did admit that he was operating on the output frequency of the repeater.

In June of that year, the commission received another complaint. This complaint alleged that during an attempted Emergency Net broadcast in preparation for Tropical Storm Cindy, Materne repeatedly transmitted on the repeater’s input frequency and hindered the local Emergency Net’s ability to coordinate weather warnings and alerts on behalf of the National Weather Service. The interfering signal was tracked to Materne’s home.

After a warning letter was sent, Materne responded saying that transmitting on the output frequency of the repeater was permitted. “[I am] tired of this trash harassing me,” he said in response, and noted, “I’m going to tell you like I tell this trash over here. Pound sand lady.”

More complaints poured in to the FCC regarding interference; in response, agents conducted an investigation and discovered Materne sitting in his car causing interference to W6BII for 30 minutes via a handheld radio.

Based on Materne’s alleged actions, the FCC moved to propose a monetary forfeiture of $18,000 that consists of a $7,000 forfeiture for interference, a $1,000 forfeiture for failure to provide station identification, and an upward adjustment of $10,000 due to “violations that are egregious, intentional, or repeated, or that cause substantial harm or generate substantial economic gain for the violator.”

“Mr. Materne repeated similar conduct and did so in a manner demonstrating intent to violate the act and the commission’s rules and a deliberate disregard for the commission’s authority and the very spirit of the Amateur Radio Service,” the FCC said, “by (a) advising the bureau representative to “pound sand,” (b) announcing his intent to interfere with the local net, and (c) purposefully driving to the site of the W5BII repeater to deliberately interfere with other amateur licensees.”

Materne has 30 days to pay the full amount or file written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.

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