Department of Justice seal U.S. Department of Justice

Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2005
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

UNAUTHORIZED RADIO OPERATOR FOUND GUILTY OF INTERFERING WITH SEVERAL GOVERNMENT FREQUENCIES


Los Angeles, CA - A Bell, California man was convicted this morning on federal charges of interfering with radio frequencies being used by the United States military, the United States Coast Guard, and other public safety organizations.

Jack Gerritsen, 69, who represented himself during a 3 1/2-day trial, was convicted by a jury that deliberated for less than an hour. Gerritsen was found guilty of a felony charge of malicious interference with a communications system operated by the United States. He was also found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of willful or malicious interference with radio communications and three misdemeanor counts of transmitting radio signals without a license.

The Federal Communications Commission investigated illegal radio transmissions linked to Gerritsen for four years. After the FBI joined the investigation, a federal grand jury originally indicted Gerritsen in May. According to court documents filed in this case, the FCC investigation revealed that Gerritsen transmited his prerecorded messages, as well as real-time harassment and profanity, for hours at a time, often making it impossible for licensed radio operators to use the public frequencies.

Five years ago, Gerritsen was convicted in state court of interfering with the radio communications of the California Highway Patrol, and he was sentenced to one year in prison. After he was released from custody, Gerritsen applied for and received an amateur radio license from the FCC. Within a week, after the FCC realized it had given a license to someone convicted of interfering with public safety radio frequencies, the agency set aside the license.

- The FCC has received complaints concerning Gerrisen's activities from Ham radio operators and various agencies, including the military, the Coast Guard, local police departments and the American Red Cross. The evidence presented at trial showed that Gerritsen:interfered with a Coast Guard Auxiliary amateur operator, who was assisting the Coast Guard during a search and rescue operation on October 29, 2004;
- interfered with American Red Cross radio transmissions on January 14, 2005, while the agency was preparing for disaster relief operations involving the Prado Dam; and
- caused the cancellation of an Army Reserve homeland security training exercise on March 10, 2005 when he interfered with the United States Army Military Affiliate Radio System transmitted over amateur radio frequencies without a valid license on three separate occasions in 2003 and 2004.

Gerritsen faces a maximum possible penalty of 15 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on March 6 by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner. Gerritsen was remanded into federal custody after the jury's verdict.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission, which received substantial assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Release No. 05-165

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