News‎ > ‎

Apologetic Radio Jammer Jack Gerritsen Gets Seven Years, Fines:

posted Jan 16, 2014, 7:49 PM by Stones River   [ updated Jul 6, 2017, 9:19 AM ]


The ARRL Letter Vol. 25, No. 38 September 22, 2006

Apologetic Radio Jammer Jack Gerritsen Gets Seven Years, Fines:

from The ARRL Letter, Vol 25, No 38 on September 22, 2006
View comments about this article!

Apologetic Radio Jammer Jack Gerritsen Gets Seven Years, Fines:

It was a day many radio amateurs in Southern California had been anticipating for a long time. On September 18, US District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner sentenced convicted radio jammer Jack Gerritsen, now 70, to seven years imprisonment and imposed $15,225 in fines on six counts -- one a felony -- that included willful and malicious interference with radio communications and transmitting without a license. Before sentencing, Gerritsen apologized to the federal government, the FCC and the local Amateur Radio community, which had endured the brunt of Gerritsen's on-air tirades and outright jamming. "I'm sorry, and I apologize to everyone here," Gerritsen told those in the courtroom, which included more than a dozen radio amateurs and Gerritsen's family members. Gerritsen's contrition did nothing to convince Klausner toward leniency.

"How many times have you said you would not do this again?" Klausner reportedly asked Gerritsen, a repeat offender who served as his own attorney during his trial. "But based on your history, you come back again and again for this. I believe you will continue to do it, and it would send the wrong message to others, that five years is not long enough either!"

The sentence even exceeded US District Attorney Lamar Baker's recommended 46-month sentence. Gerritsen could have received up to 15 years in federal prison. Sentences on all counts will run concurrently.

The judge also tacked on two years' supervised probation following Gerritsen's prison term, but he recommended Gerritsen remain in custody during that period. Klausner further ordered Gerritsen to participate in a substance-abuse program. He told Gerritsen he could not identify himself by using any other means -- including his previously held Amateur Radio call sign KG6IRO -- than his real name, and he prohibited Gerritsen from owning, possessing or using any radio transmitting equipment.

The FCC fielded complaints of illegal radio transmissions linked to Gerritsen for four years. According to court documents, the Commission's investigation and signal tracking revealed that Gerritsen transmitted both prerecorded messages and real-time harassment and profanity for hours at a time. He often targeted local Amateur Radio repeater systems, precluding their use by licensed operators, and hams were among the most vocal complainants.

In May 2005 FBI agents, accompanied by FCC staff, arrested Gerritsen without incident and seized his radio equipment. Released on $250,000 bond while awaiting trial, Gerritsen remained in home detention, barred from possessing any radio equipment.

The FCC already had fined Gerritsen $10,000 for violating its rules and the Communications Act during his reign of radio terror. Just days before his December 2005 trial, the Commission affirmed $42,000 in additional fines -- two $21,000 forfeitures. In doing so, the FCC rebuffed every argument Gerritsen offered in response to each Notice of Apparent Liability, including insistent "freedom of speech" claims. The government has yet to collect anything from Gerritsen.

Following his nearly four-day trial, Gerritsen, who lives in Bell, was found guilty on a felony count of causing malicious interference to a communications system operated by the United States -- the US Coast Guard Auxiliary -- during a 2004 search-and-rescue operation. He was convicted of misdemeanors for interfering with American Red Cross radio transmissions in early 2005 while the agency was preparing for disaster relief operations, and for causing the cancellation of a US Army Reserve homeland security training exercise in 2005 by interfering with US Army Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) communications. He also was convicted of transmitting on Amateur Radio frequencies without a valid license on three separate occasions in 2003 and 2004, all misdemeanors. The jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning its verdict December 9. Gerritsen has been in custody ever since.

In 2000, a state court convicted Gerritsen of interfering with a California Highway Patrol radio system and sentenced him to a year in prison. After his release, Gerritsen in 2001 successfully passed the Amateur Radio Technician class examination, filed an application and received the call sign KG6IRO. Just days later, however, the Commission realized its error -- granting a license to someone convicted of interfering with Public Safety radio frequencies -- and set aside the license. Claiming the FCC could not revoke his operating privileges without a hearing, Gerritsen continued to identify as KG6IRO in some of his transmissions.