Second exculpatory story from FM pirate fails to move FCC


A Milwaukee based FM bandit was nailed with the standard $10K notice of apparent liability for operating without a license on 92.9 MHz. He claimed it wasn’t him, and the signal was coming from a nearby house. When that didn’t work, he claimed a person he met was broadcasting, unbeknownst to him, from rental space in his house. The FCC, however, says it has reason to believe that the pirate and the renter are one and the same person.

The NAL came 12/14/07, for illegal operation on the frequency between 3/25/06 and 5/28/07. The alleged pirate, Steven A. Skalecki, said that he was operating weather monitoring equipment from his residence – and in fact, made the claim that he himself observed a station operating on 92.9 “from a nearby residence,” according to the FCC. However, he offered nothing to override the FCC agent determination based on field strength measurements that the signals were in fact coming from Skalecki’s residence.

On the second round, based on a petition from Skalecki offered in July 2009, Skalecki suggested maybe the signal was coming from his house after all.

He said he met a man named Sonny Soviato in December 2005, and Soviato expressed his desire to “spread the Word of the Lord via freedom or speech,” and asked Skalecki if he had rentable room where Soviato could set up a computer for that purpose. Skalecki told the FCC he believed Soviato’s $40 and day payment for occasional use of Skalecki’s residence was for an internet-only broadcast, but suspects that Soviato was using a “small black box” and Skalecki’s weather equipment to operate the 92.9 station.

The FCC found no reason to buy this new argument, which could and should have been made in the first place, when Skalecki chose instead to shift blame to the occupant of a different residence.

The FCC also suspects that Skalecki first saw Soviato not in December 2005, but the first time he ever looked in a mirror. Here is the story, which the FCC included in a footnote:

“We also have reason to believe that ‘Sonny Soviato’ may be an alias for Mr. Skalecki.  On June 8, 2007, six months before issuance of the NAL, the Chicago Office received a letter allegedly from Mr. Soviato regarding three alleged low power stations operating in the Milwaukee area and asking if he can ‘get a license for a low power station.’ The letter provided a return address of 3151 S. Lenox Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is Mr. Skalecki’s prior residence. During the period of time at issue here, such residence was registered as a trust in the names of Arthur and Clara Skalecki, Francis J. Skalecki, and Steven Skalecki.  Agents also noted the remarkable similarities between Mr. Soviato’s signature on the June 8, 2007 letter and Mr. Skalecki’s signature on his responses to the NOUO and the NAL.”

In the end, the $10K fine stands.