Radio pirates walk the plank


The FCC doesn’t clap a spectrum buccaneer into irons and toss them in the brig, but it does make them walk the plank in the form of surrendering some of their hard-earned booty. The Commission has brought a Puerto Rican pirate to justice, and in the case of a Florida pirate of modest means, it has agreed to significantly lower the plank.

In Guayama PR, the collared and alleged spectrum bandit is Eleuterio Lebron. FCC agents found a station operating there in the reserved band at 88.5 MHz on two separate occasions in June of 2011, and a few days later were allowed to inspect the operation by the station’s operator. The operator named Lebron as the owner. Lebron agreed that he was owner upon talking to the agents, and had the operator shut down the station.

The FCC took pains in its discussion of the case to note that an operator is defined as the controlling authority behind the station – thus, owner Lebron was culpable, and the actual hands-on operator was considered merely to be an employee.

The standard fine for this type of signal piracy is $10K. In this case, the FCC has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for $15K because Lebron has a prior – he was caught operating on the same frequency from the same location in February 2010 and was warned at that time.

The Florida case involves Fritznor Lindor, who was hit with a $15K NAL for operating without a license on 94.7 MHz out of Orange Park FL. Lindor claimed he was unaware that it was illegal to operate his station, which is an excuse that never ever flies with the FCC. However, financial documentation provided by Lindor did cause the FCC to almost completely erase the financial portion of the penalty, taking it all the way down to $300.