The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has agreed to significantly reduce the penalties it previously proposed for a New York amateur radio operator in light of evidence of his inability to pay.
According to a Forfeiture Order issued in August 2015, the Commission originally issued a Notice of Apparent Liability in August 2014 against James Engle of Lewiston, NY for operating a radio transmitter without authorization and for intentionally causing interference to other users of amateur radio bands. Engle appealed the proposed forfeiture of $22,000, stating that he immediately ceased his unauthorized operations after receiving notice of the violations from the Commission, and that he would be unable to pay the proposed fine in light of his limited retirement income.
In reviewing Engle’s appeal, the Commission denied his claim that his subsequent actions to eliminate interference should support a reduction or cancellation of the proposed penalty. The Commission noted that post-notification compliance with its rules is expected, and that Engle presented no evidence of any corrective actions taken prior to the inspection by FCC agents that identified the violations.
However, upon review of the federal tax return records submitted by Engle as evidence of his limited retirement income, the Commission determined that a reduction of the proposed penalty was appropriate. As a result, Engle will now be required to pay $2400 for his violation of the FCC’s rules.
In its Forfeiture Order, the Commission noted that the inability to pay a proposed fine is only one of several factors used in calculating financial forfeitures, and that it has previously rejected inability to pay claims in cases of “repeated intentional and malicious acts or otherwise egregious violations.”