A New York City man faces a fine of $23,000 for operating on Amateur Radio frequencies without a license and for transmitting a false officer-in-distress call on a New York City Police Department (NYPD) radio channel.
The FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) on August 31 to Daniel Delise of Astoria. It details a history of complaints and alleged illegal radio operation on Delise’s part that dates back to 2012.
ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, credited the intervention earlier this year of New York Rep Peter King with getting the case “off the back burner and up to the front of the line.” Lisenco and ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, met with the Republican congressman in January to discuss ongoing interference issues in the Greater New York City/Long Island area. King subsequently wrote FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to urge “timely and visible enforcement.”
Lisenco also praised the direct involvement of FCC Enforcement Bureau Region 1 Director David C. Dombrowski “and his willingness to work with us and to use information we provided as potential leads,” as well as “a system of grass-roots reporting that depicted the current pattern of intentional interference with legitimate amateur communications on local repeaters,” coordinated by Richie Cetron, K2KNB, an Official Observer and Assistant Hudson Division Director. Lisenco said FCC Special Counsel Laura Smith “has been a great help in keeping us informed and in the loop.”
The FCC reported receiving “numerous complaints” that Delise was transmitting on different frequencies, issuing two official warnings in 2012. The Commission said complaints about Delise continued through 2013 and 2014, but, the FCC said, an investigating agent “was not able to confirm a rule violation.” Still more complaints alleged that Delise was transmitting without authority on 461.225 MHz, a frequency licensed to NYC City Wide Disaster Services, the FCC recounted. In 2014, the FCC received 10 more complaints identifying Delise by name, plus another nine in 2015 and one more in 2016.
Last April, field agents monitoring in Delise’s Astoria neighborhood detected a strong voice transmission on 147.96 MHz. They were able to track the signal to the building where Delise resided, and, ultimately, went to his apartment and confronted him.
The FCC said Delise admitted making the transmissions on 147.96 MHz and acknowledged that he did not have an Amateur Radio license. As a result, the FCC’s New York Field office issued a Notice of Unlicensed Operation.
A couple of weeks later, the NYPD informed an FCC field agent that it had taken Delise into custody for “sending out false radio transmissions” over the NYPD radio system and for possessing radios capable of operating on NYPD frequencies, in violation of state law. According to the NYPD, a call had gone out reporting an officer in need, and the responding officer spotted Delise speaking into a radio. The police report said Delise admitted to making the transmission and that he told officers that he had more radios and would continue to transmit on police frequencies. Obtaining a warrant, the NYPD confiscated all radio transmitting equipment from Delise’s apartment, including 14 radios capable of operating on NYPD frequencies.
The FCC concluded that Delise apparently transmitted without a license on Amateur Radio frequencies, even after being warned not to do so, and that he apparently transmitted false or fraudulent distress signals on NYPD frequencies. Both violations were “willful,” the FCC said.
Delise could have faced a penalty of more than $140,000, under the provisions of the Communications Act. The NAL gave Delise 30 days to pay the fine or to file a written statement seeking a reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture. The FCC fine may not be at the top of Delise’s list of worries, however. According to Lisenco, Delise now is serving prison time resulting from the false police call and his guilty pleas to other charges.