Date sent: Thu, 26 Feb 1998
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Crash Knorr)
Subject: MRN: Kobres found guilty in Tampa
Radio operator guilty
By DEAN SOLOV
of The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - A jury returns a guilty verdict in the federal case of a Lutz man who operated a pirate radio station from his home.
Jurors took slightly more than an hour Wednesday to find a Lutz man guilty of 14 criminal counts of operating an unlicensed radio station.
Arthur Kobres, 54, faces prison and fines for operating ``Lutz Community Radio,'' which broadcast anti-government programming, out of his home from 1995 through 1997. He remains free on $25,000 security bond; sentencing is scheduled for May 13.
``I'm disappointed in the American people, if that jury's a cross section of the American people,'' Kobres said after his two-day federal trial ended.
Kobres was arrested on a 14- count indictment Nov. 19 when federal agents raided his home and seized radio equipment. The equipment of two other area pirate operators was confiscated the same day.
Each count represents a specific day Federal Communications Commission agents detected transmissions coming from his home. Each charge carries a possible two-year prison sentence and fines.
Lowell Becraft of Huntsville, Ala., Kobres' attorney, said the case may be the first time an unlicensed radio operator has been prosecuted on criminal charges.
Becraft said he will appeal the case and try to get the law requiring a license to operate a radio station declared unconstitutional. He said Congress overstepped its bounds when it allowed the FCC to regulate radio stations that don't transmit signals across state lines.
U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. rejected that argument during the trial.
Kobres, described by Becraft in court as ``your average everyday American,'' said after the verdict: ``I don't think anybody understands the Constitution. I think we're losing our country, and this is evidence of it. And I think the American people are willing slaves.''
The only defense witness, Kobres readily admitted he was broadcasting without a license.
The jurors focused on his intent. Did Kobres intentionally violate the law, as the federal prosecutor said, or was he acting in good faith and simply mistaken, as his lawyer argued?
Kobres testified that he concluded years ago he didn't need a license based on an FCC manual he got in the late 1960s and his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, he said. He was unaware the law changed in 1982, he said.
Federal prosecutor Ron Tenpas reminded jurors that authorities warned Kobres several times that he was violating the law by broadcasting without a license.
Doug Brewer, a Temple Terrace man whose radio equipment also was seized in the November raids, was stunned by the verdict.
``I just can't believe anybody could find anybody guilty of operating a radio transmitter,'' he said. ``I'm sorry; operating a radio station is not a ... crime.''