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FCC Tech, Police Nab Radio Pirate

An Federal Communications Commission (FCC) technician tracked down a man making pirate radio transmissions on a Las Vegas (Nev.) Metro Police frequency last February, and police confronted him with the radio still in his hand. Now, besides narcotics charges and a warrant, Estevan Gutierrez faces a $25,000 fine from the FCC for broadcasting on 159.150 MHz without a license. In a “Notice of Apparent Liability” posted yesterday, the FCC says a San Diego (Calif.) FCC field agent assisted in finding Gutierrez, who police say made 400 transmissions in a single day. Gutierrez would threaten officers and dispatchers, make phony calls for help and otherwise interfered with transmissions so police had to use an alternate channel. On the first day the FCC tech used direction-finding gear in a vehicle to track Gutierrez as he moved around the city making harassing radio transmissions. The next day, the FCC tech determined Gutierrez was no longer moving, and narrowed his location to near University and 7th St. By driving the area, the tech was able to pinpoint a specific duplex, and police moved in. But Gutierrez fled police by climbing into the attic, and then breaking into the adjacent residence. Police used pepper spray to flush him out and take him into custody. The FCC says Gutierrez was using an Icom IC-F50 model portable radio programmed to transmit on 159.150 MHz to make the transmissions. Download (pdf) the full FCC notice and read the story of Gutierrez’s capture, how the FCC arrived at the $25,000 amount, and their commission’s interpretation of “willful and malicious” when assessing Gutierrez’s guilt.

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