RADIO JAMMER JACK GERRITSEN, EX-KG6IRO GOES ON TRIAL; FACES 11 YEARS IN PRISON
The public record on Jack Gerritsen of Bell, CA, started in December 1999 when he was arrested by the California Highway Patrol and charged with intentionally interfering with police radio communications. He was convicted six months later and placed on probation which included the condition that he not possess any radio transmitting devices nor interfere with police or FCC activity.
Two years later, Gerritsen applied for and was granted a ham ticket with the call sign KG6IRO which the FCC “set aside” a week later. Gerritsen was told that his license was returned to “pending status” because of complaints about the operation of his station and questions regarding his qualifications to be a licensee in light of his 1999 arrest and 2000 conviction for radio interference to police radio. “You have no authority to operate radio transmitting equipment, and such operation would ...subject you to monetary penalties and imprisonment,” the FCC said. But that did not stop Gerritsen.
A month later, the Bell California Police Department notified the FCC that they had received complaints about Gerritsen’s radio transmissions. An FCC warning letter was issued for unlicensed operation. His response was that the cancellation of his amateur license was improper.
On January 29, 2002, Gerritsen was arrested for violation of his probation and sentenced to prison. He got out 18 months later and almost immediately returned to the radio airwaves -- not only ham radio, but business and public safety radio repeater systems as well.
On November 6, 2003, the FCC identified 2-meter transmissions coming from Gerritsen's residence and he was seen sitting in his driveway with a small portable two-way radio. He admitted to transmitting on various Amateur radio frequencies as well as various business radio frequencies without a valid station license and was issued a Notice of Unlicensed Radio Operation. Gerritsen said he wanted a hearing and continued to operate; signing his canceled KG6IRO call sign.
Gerritsen fined $10,000
On February 9, 2004, FCC agents again monitored 2-meter transmissions coming from Gerritsen's home but he refused to have his station inspected. The FCC issued him an NAL (Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, an FCC fine) in the amount of $10,000. Gerritsen’s response was that he has a valid amateur license which can not be suspended without a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The FCC saw otherwise and declined to cancel nor reduce the penalty. The fine was not paid and Gerritsen continued his radio operation.
Gerritsen refuses to stop transmitting
On July 16, 2004, Gerritsen was again warned by agents from the Commission's Los Angeles Office that he did not have authority to transmit on any amateur band and that he should vacate all amateur frequencies.
On June 15, 2004, FCC agents observed a signal interfering with the 147.435/146.405 MHz repeater. Using mobile direction finding techniques, the FCC again located the source of the signal as coming from Gerritsen’s home. For almost an hour, Gerritsen maintained a steady transmission on the input frequency of 146.405 MHz which kept all other operators from using the repeater.
On June 24, 2004, the FCC’s Los Angeles Office received a complaint from an amateur operator on the repeater’s output frequency, 147.435 MHz, by a man identifying himself as Jack Gerritsen, announcing a “hostile takeover” of the frequency.
On July 16, 2004, the Los Angeles Office received a complaint alleging that Gerritsen was interfering with fire watch communications on the authorized 147.105/146.505 MHz repeater.
On July 24, 2004, the FCC observed Gerritsen threatening to “jam” any operator that would “jam” him along with a recording of the tone used by the phone
company to indicate a phone is off the hook.
On July 26, 2004, the FCC received a complaint stating that Gerritsen had played a recording for 48 minutes without interruption over the authorized “Keller Peak” repeater on 146.985/146.385 MHz.
On September 13, 2004, the Los Angeles Office received a complaint from an ARRL Official Observer, alleging that Gerritsen deliberately and maliciously interfered with the Young Hams Net using the authorized Catalina Island Amateur Repeater Association (“CARA”) repeater “...so intense and vile they were reported to have reduced one of the younger participants to tears.”
On September 15, 2004, the FCC positively identified radio transmissions coming from Gerritsen’s home residence as the source of interference to the CARA repeater.
On December 2, 2004, the FCC issued another fine to Gerritsen, this time for $21,000 for “...willfully, repeatedly, and maliciously causing interference to authorized users in the Amateur Radio Service” between June 15, 2004 and September 15, 2004. Gerritsen denied the charges and said his amateur license “...has not been suspended, terminated, revoked, modified or set aside; that no record of his license set aside exists; that he did not engage in interference; that the actual motive behind the NAL is to silence his messages in violation of the U.S. Constitution; and that he does not have sufficient income to pay the forfeiture
amount proposed in the NAL.” Gerritsen ignored the fines (now totaling $32,000) and continued to operate.
Gerritsen interferes with distress communications
On October 29, 2004, the FCC's Los Angeles Office received a telephone call from the Elfriede Geiger, N6LNX of Huntington Beach, CA, the wife of a mariner, Alois Geiger, KG6FB. She told the FCC that she had not been able to contact her husband on the sailing vessel “Elke-Marie” traveling from California to Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
According to the wife, the “Elke-Marie” had been traveling with a companion vessel, the “Drummoral,” and both had encountered a storm a few days earlier which damaged the ship’s VHF marine radio. Amateur radio was the only operational transmitter aboard the vessel. The wife contacted the Coast Guard who attempted to contact the husband via ham radio to determine his need for assistance.
Identifying himself as “W1HIJ” and “U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Upland Radio One,” the Coast Guard Officer came up on the Catalina Island Amateur Repeater Association (CARA) repeater on Catalina Island, California and requested that all stations stand by while he attempted to contact the “Elke-Marie.”
According to the Coast Guard and the wife, Jack Gerritsen began speaking and transmitting a prerecorded message using the CARA repeater. The Auxiliary Officer announced that the channel was being used for emergency traffic, but each time he attempted to contact the “Elke-Marie”, Gerritsen played a recording or questioned the validity of the emergency stating that he did not believe there was a real emergency.
Gerritsen continued transmitting for approximately 40 minutes, repeatedly playing the taped recording and ultimately ending his transmission by stating “If you jam me, I'll jam you.” FCC agents were able to pinpoint the source of the signal on the input frequency of the CARA repeater as coming from Gerritsen's residence who would not answer the door.
On January 21, 2005, the FCC’s Los Angeles Office issued another $21,000 NAL to Gerritsen for “...willfully and maliciously causing interference to the radio communications of the Coast Guard Auxiliary Officer, who was attempting to communicate with a ship in distress.” Gerritsen filed a response to the NAL on February 16, 2005 denying the allegations. The FCC said it had evidence to the contrary and he was ordered to pay the additional $21,000 within 30 days.
You would think that after $52,000 in fines, that Jack Garritsen would get the message. But he didn’t. On May 5, 2005, FBI special agents, accompanied by personnel from the FCC Los Angeles Field Office, arrested Gerritsen at his home in Bell, California. Federal agents also seized Gerritsen's radio equipment.
He was charged with a felony charge of malicious interference and a misdemeanor count of transmitting radio signals without a license.” The two charges carry a potential penalty of 11 years in federal prison.
According to the criminal complaint, an FCC investigation revealed that Gerritsen “...often transmits his prerecorded political messages and real-time harassment and profanity for hours at a time, often making it impossible for licensed radio operators to use the public frequencies.”
Gerritsen was released on a $250,000 property bond and has remained in home detention, barred from possessing any radio equipment, while awaiting trial.
In addition to Amateur Radio repeater communications, Gerritsen is alleged to have interfered with Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) transmissions. The FCC also reported that it has received complaints from other government agencies that Gerritsen interfered with local and state police and fire agencies, the American Red Cross, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and other radio services. A MARS training exercise in March had to be canceled as a result of interference attributed to Gerritsen.
On December 2, 2005, the FCC affirmed the last two $21,000 fines. “His unlicensed operation on amateur frequencies is not protected by the U.S. Constitution as it is well established that the right to free speech does not include the right to use radio facilities without a license,” the FCC said.
Gerritsen's trial gets under way Monday, December 5 in Room 850 of the Edward R. Roybal Courthouse, 255 E Temple Street, Los Angeles.