The FCC has proposed a fine of more than $400,000 on a Queens, New York, man who has admitted making unauthorized transmissions on New York City Police Department (NYPD) radio frequencies, maliciously interfering with NYPD officers’ communications. Peralta, 20, is alleged to have transmitted false bomb threats, false claims of criminal activities involving firearms, false distress calls from purported NYPD officers, and threats against individual NYPD officers. The unauthorized transmissions began a year ago, according to the FCC.
“Through his actions, as he described them to the NYPD, Mr. Peralta has demonstrated not only a deliberate disregard of the Commission’s authority and rules, but of the safety of NYPD officers and the public that they are called to serve and protect,” the FCC said in a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), issued on April 14. “Commission action in this context is therefore essential to safeguard authorized operations on spectrum licensed for public safety uses, and, accordingly, a substantial penalty appears warranted.”
The FCC said the NAL addresses nine unauthorized and interfering transmissions that Peralta has admitted to the NYPD that he made on its radio system. The FCC said Peralta’s unauthorized transmissions included false bomb threats, false claims of criminal activities involving firearms, false distress calls from purported NYPD officers, and threats against individual NYPD officers.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, said that with the NAL, the FCC is making it “abundantly clear that it will not tolerate unauthorized and illegal use of the radio spectrum.” The entire Commission now must sign off on such proposed fines, and Pai said he was grateful to his fellow FCC members for “agreeing to act swiftly and strongly” in the matter. “This may not be a typical pirate radio case in which an unauthorized operator inflicts damage on a radio broadcaster that is operating with a valid FCC license,” Pai said, “but it does involve unauthorized interference to critical public safety communications systems.”
Peralta was arrested last fall along with two other men suspected of committing several robberies. According to news accounts, police found a cache of scanners and radios in one of the suspects’ homes.
The FCC said it was alerted by a Twitter post about an unlawful intrusion on the NYPD radio system and dispatched an Enforcement Bureau agent to check it out. On September 30, the NYPD contacted the FCC’s New York Office and advised that it had arrested Peralta and another individual in connection with unauthorized transmissions on NYPD’s radio system. According to police reports, the other individual arrested — Ricardo Torres, 29, described as “a ham radio enthusiast” in some news accounts — allegedly provided the radios used.
Torres, is said to hold an FCC General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) license but his name does not appear in the Amateur Radio licensee database. Police said they found 15 portable radios, 9 scanners, roof-top antennas, an amplifier, and assorted other electronics in Torres’s apartment.
Peralta has 30 days to pay or contest the proposed $404,166 FCC forfeiture.
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