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Alleged Long-Time Pirate Liable for $23,000 Fine

Operator also fined for false officer-in-distress call

A long-standing investigation into the goings-on of an alleged pirate radio officer has come to an expensive conclusion.

On Dec. 5, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a $23,000 fine on Daniel Delise from Astoria, N.Y. for allegedly operating an unlicensed amateur radio station at unauthorized power levels as well as for falsely transmitting an officer-in-distress call.

Regional groups like the Broadcast Employees Amateur Radio Society (BEARS) in New York City have closely watched the case. When the first Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) was first issued against Delise by the FCC in September of this year, BEARS President Howard Price said in an article on the group’s website that “our long regional nightmare is over.”

The case goes back to 2012, when the FCC Special Counsel issued a warning to Delise in response to a series of written and verbal complaints for operating on frequencies in the Amateur Radio Service without authorization. Despite the warnings, the New York Enforcement Bureau continued to receive complaints in 2013 and 2014, and in April 2016, bureau agents used direction-finding techniques to determine that transmissions were originating from antennas on the roof where Delise had been reported to reside. 

In Delise’s residence, FCC bureau agents found a handheld radio and seven mobile radios programmed to operate on various frequencies in the Personal Radio Service, Amateur Radio Service and Land Mobile Radio Service. At the time, Delise admitted to operating on 147.96 MHz and to not having an amateur license.

On April 16, according to an article in the New York Times, Delise was arrested after using a police frequency to make a false call about an officer in need of assistance in the neighborhood. When a New York Police Department officer responded to the call, he saw Delise speaking into a radio device, according to a police report. According to the Times, the police search revealed 14 radios in the home he shared with his parents, according to a criminal complaint. The NYPD report said that Delise admitted to making the transmissions, said he had more radios, and said he would continue to transmit on police frequencies, according to the FCC. The NYPD obtained a warrant to search his apartment and confiscated all the radio transmitting equipment, except the antennas, the commission said.

The Enforcement Bureau gave Delise the opportunity to provide evidence that he had FCC authority to operate; in his response, Delise did not deny that he had violated the Communications Act with his transmissions, the FCC said, but argued that the fine should be cancelled due to an inability to pay. When Delise responded in September, he said he was currently incarcerated and has no income or assets of any kind. 

But the FCC declined to reduce or cancel the fine based on Delise’s inability to pay. Not only did Delise not submit any financial statements to reflect his current financial status, the FCC said in its final NAL, but he made no attempt to refute the accusation that he operated an unauthorized amateur radio station without a license, or made a false officer-in-distress call.

The FCC has given Delise has 30 days to pay the fine.