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A New Jersey radio amateur, David S. Larsen Sr., WS2L, of Highland Park, will surrender his Amateur Extra-class license and pay a $7,500 civil penalty as part of a Consent Decree with the FCC to settle an enforcement action. An FCC Enforcement Bureau Order released June 18 said Larsen violated the Communications Act of 1934 and Part 90 rules by operating on frequencies licensed to the Borough of Highland Park for public safety communication.

As part of the settlement, Larsen agrees that he will admit making the unauthorized transmissions, not engage in unauthorized use of a radio station, and surrender radios in his possession capable of transmitting on the town’s public safety frequencies. If the Commission finds that Larsen has made unauthorized radio transmissions or otherwise violates the terms of the Consent Decree, he’ll be subject to an additional $32,500 civil penalty. The agreement stipulates that Larsen may not apply for a new Amateur Radio license for 3 years.

The case stems from a May 2018 complaint of unauthorized transmissions on the Highland Park municipal radio system. FCC agents followed up with several visits to the town.

“Based on information provided by the complainant and direct observations by the Bureau’s agents, the unauthorized transmissions consisted of brief, pre-recorded sounds (such as the sad trombone sound),” the FCC said in the Consent Decree. The FCC said individuals the agents interviewed identified Larsen — a former rescue squad volunteer — as the person who was likely responsible.

Responding to an FCC Letter of Inquiry, Larsen subsequently contacted the Enforcement Bureau and related that the unauthorized transmissions had ceased. Last fall, Larsen, responded to the inquiry through counsel to deny making the unauthorized transmissions. A short time after that, the unauthorized transmissions resumed, and the FCC resumed its investigation, attempting to trace the source of the transmissions. Last March, agents used direction-finding equipment at a fixed location near the complainant’s residence, while other agents conducted mobile direction finding of Larsen’s vehicle in transit.

“The four agents observed Mr. Larsen pull over to the side of the road on the way to his home,” the Consent Decree recounts. “The four Bureau agents observed (a) that during the brief stop, Mr. Larsen remained in his vehicle, (b) while stopped, a brief transmission consisting of the sad trombone sound emanated from the direction of Mr. Larsen’s vehicle on a frequency licensed for use by the Highland Park Radio System, and (c) following the transmission of the sad trombone sound, Mr. Larsen resumed his drive to his residence.”

The FCC said agents returned in April to observe Larsen repeat the earlier behavior, including a similar transmission emanating from Mr. Larsen’s vehicle, according to the Decree.