Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Courtesy of W5YI-News:

Glenn Baxter has 20 days to respond to lawsuit.

A lawsuit has been filed against Glenn A. Baxter, K1MAN, of Belgrade Lakes, Maine, on October 25, 2010. by the U.S. Department of Justice. (Case No: 1:10-cv-00435-JAW.) A U.S. District Court - District of Maine (Bangor) civil action summons was served on Baxter on October 27, 2010. He has 20 days to respond to it.

His response must go to Assistant U. S. Attorney Evan J. Roth in the Portland, Maine, U.S. Attorney’s Office. If he fails to respond to the court, a $21,000 judgement by default will be entered, the amount assessed by the Federal Communications Commission on March 29, 2006.


Five years ago, the FCC issued Baxter a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) in the amount of $21,000 for “... willful and repeated violation of Sections §97.101(d) -- causing deliberate malicious interference to ongoing Amateur Radio radio communications; §97.113(a)(3) -- violating the pecuniary interest rules; §97.105(a) -- failure to exercise station control; §97.113(b) -- engaging in impermissible broadcasting; and “...failure to file requested information with the FCC.

The civil action was brought under Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Section 1.80 of the FCC Rules and Regulations. Section 503(b) covers FCC violations resulting in forfeitures (fines); persons subject to and amount of penalties and applicable procedures. The five page complaint in USA vs Glenn A. Baxter had three exhibits:

Exhibit A is a 6-page Apparent Notice of Liability (NAL) issued June 7, 2005. During late 2004 and early 2005, FCC agents observed “...K1MAN commence transmissions on top of existing communications on 3.890 MHz.”

Baxter is Executive Director of the American Amateur Radio Association (AARA) which has a website at Baxter uses his station to promote his website which offers various products for sale including a monthly newsletter at a cost of $45 per year.

A December 2004, pre-recorded (70 minute with no station identification) on air interview with a potential customer discussed Baxter Associates, an employment search firm owned by Baxter. “During the transmission, Baxter discussed fees for his franchises, investments and franchising opportunities.”

Baxter failed to properly explain to the FCC how station K1MAN was controlled and the identity of the control operator. Baxter responded to the Warning Notices by stating “no corrective action or changes are needed with regard to station control” and that he “had provided all the information required by FCC rules and federal law.” He encouraged the FCC to take “enforcement action” and “...look forward to seeing you in court.” He was advised of his liability for a $21,000 fine.

Exhibit B is the Affirmed FCC Forfeiture Order released March 27, 2006, ordering Baxter to pay the $21,000 fine within 30 days. Baxter apparently can't argue that he doesn't owe the amount. He had his chance to do that during the NAL period. A June 20, 2006, FCC letter further advised Baxter that if the fine was not paid, the matter would be referred to the Dept. of Justice for enforcement.

Exhibit C is the Certificate of Forfeiture, dated: September 18, 2006, certified by the FCC, verified that Baxter was ordered to pay the United States the sum of $21,000. Baxter did not pay the fine.

The FCC has no collection department, therefore the Department of Justice acts as the collector for all Civil Forfeiture debts payable to the U.S. government. The DoJ has 5 years to bring a civil suit for collection. The deadline for service of process is February 22, 2011. The DoJ beat the deadline by a little over 3 months.

The Complaint seeks to force payment of the $21,000 fine along with a $350 filing fee and "such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper." If Baxter still doesn't pay the fine, the U.S. Attorney will proceed to establish a court date for trial.

This federal court case is a completely separate matter from any action the FCC might take regarding Baxter's Amateur Radio license. His ham ticket expired on October 17, 2005. And his July 22, 2005, renewal has been pending for more than five years. Payment (or non-payment) of the $21,000 fine has no bearing on whether Baxter's license will be renewed. Best guess is that the FCC will eventually issue a “Show Cause Order” why his license should not be revoked.

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