FCC Fines Alleged Pirate $25,000

Commission says Gabriel Garcia operated on multiple frequencies
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The FCC fined Gabriel Garcia $25,000 for operating an unlicensed station on various FM frequencies in San Jose, Calif.

The case began in March 2010 when the FCC received a complaint from the Federal Aviation Administration about interference to the Aviation Services band from an unlicensed station calling itself KNRG and operating on 92.9 MHz in San Jose. FCC San Francisco field agents used RF direction-finding equipment to trace the source of the signal to a roof antenna at a San Jose residence.

The agents took field-strength measurements and determined they exceeded Part 15 limits (the transmission cannot exceed 250 uV/m at three meters) and therefore required a license. On March 12, 2010, the field strength measurements indicated that the signal was more than 1,957 times greater than the maximum permissible level for a non-licensed Part 15 transmitter, according to the commission.

During the inspection, the landlord identified Garcia as the operator of the station. The FCC issued a Notice of Unlicensed Operation to Garcia, detailing penalties for continuing to operate the unlicensed station.

That May, the San Francisco field office received another complaint about an unlicensed station at 93.7 MHz in San Jose. The agents again traced the transmission to a different residence of Garcia. “Based on previous encounters and California Department of Motor Vehicle identification, San Francisco agents recognized and identified Garcia as the operator of the radio station,” the agency said in its account. They again issued another Notice of Unlicensed Operation to Garcia.

In June 2010, the San Francisco field office received more complaints from the FAA about the KNRG station, again traced the signal to Garcia’s residence and issued a third Notice of Unlicensed Operation to him. In July, the agents went through the same drill for an unlicensed operation on 104.3 MHz originating from another Garcia residence in San Jose. This time, the field agents saw Garcia leave and then return to the residence. They issued a fourth Notice of Unlicensed Operation to Garcia.

The base fine for operating an unlicensed station is $10,000; however the agency found that Garcia operated on multiple frequencies, on multiple occasions, and it found his behavior “particularly egregious’ for conduct that apparently interfered with the FAA’s Aviation Radio Services band. That’s why the commission fined him $25,000. He can still seek to have that reduced or cancelled.

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