Chicago health system analyst faces felony for jamming cell phones on trains

Undercover officers arrested Dennis Nicholl, a financial analyst at Chicago-based University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, last week for allegedly using an illegal device to jam passengers' cell phone calls on public transit trains in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The arrest came after photos of the 63-year-old certified public accountant holding an illegal call jamming device circulated online for months.

Acting on a tip, Chicago police teamed up with the Federal Communications Commission and the Chicago Transit Authority to bust Mr. Nicholl. An undercover "mission team" went into action on Tuesday when they saw Mr. Nicholl enter the Loyola station on the Red Line. One of the officers sat near Mr. Nicholl and spoke on his cell phone. The officer saw Mr. Nicholl remove a black device with multiple antennas from his pocket. When Mr. Nicholl pushed a button on the device, the officer immediately lost his cell phone signal and the call was dropped, according to the report.

Holding the jamming device in his hand, Mr. Nicholl was arrested at the next train stop. He was charged with unlawful interference with a public utility, a felony.

Mr. Nicholl, who a judge dubbed "the cellphone police" during a bail hearing, admitted to using the illegal jamming device. According to the arrest report, Mr. Nicholl said "he gets annoyed at people talking on their cell phones while riding on the CTA."

Mr. Nicholl's lawyer, Charles Lauer, told The Chicago Tribune that his client meant no harm. "He might have been selfish in thinking about himself, but he didn't have any malicious intent," he said.

This is not the first time Mr. Nicholl has been accused of jamming cellphone calls. After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge in 2009, his jamming equipment was confiscated and destroyed, and he was placed under court supervision for a year, according to the report.

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