CTA Riders Complained Of Dropped Calls Before Arrest Of Alleged Cell Phone Jammer

CHICAGO (CBS) –A 63-year-old Chicago man was charged Tuesday with using an illegal device to get some peace and quiet on the CTA.

CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos reports it isn’t the first time the man has been accused of jamming cell phones and lots of complaints about dropped calls raised some eyebrows.

With a ball cap and business casual attire, the certified public accountant Dennis Nicholl walked out of jail after being charged with a felony for use of a signal jamming device.

Keegan Goudie says the device, “stuck out like a sore thumb” so much so that he and his brother blogged about it on thesixthirty.com after spotting it on the CTA Red Line.

“He seemed to be up to no good,” Chas said. “It seemed like this device was something he shouldn’t have his hands on.”

Cell phone jammers are sold online for anywhere between $30 and $300. Federal law prohibits anyone from selling, buying or operating the devices. They block cell phone reception, police radios and emergency calls.

“I think it does go to show in terms of security and terrorist threats in any major city what any person is capable of,” said Keegan.

For months, Chicago Police investigated complaints about dropped calls on the Red Line. Then, a 911 caller flagged police about the now notorious Nicholl. Undercover officers arrested him on a CTA platform Tuesday and he is now facing a felony charge.

“He had no malicious intent to really hurt anybody,” said attorney Charles Lauer.

His attorney says Nicholl was just annoyed by all the people on their cell phones and used the jammer to get a little peace and quiet.

According to the FCC, cell phone jammers can face prison time and significant fines, $16,000 for each violation or as high as $112,000 for using the device just once.

Nicholl left jail Wednesday night after bonding out.

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