A Waukegan man said to be an avid amateur radio operator was held Wednesday in the Lake County jail on charges that he accessed the portable radio system used by corrections officers and used racial slurs.
Raymond J. Kelly, 24, was taken into custody Tuesday night at his home in connection with the jail communications tampering incidents on Nov. 23 and 24. Police said they seized radio and electronic equipment.
"He is extremely intelligent," Lake County Sheriff's Police Sgt. Sara Balmes said. "He did not have authorized use and did not have one of our radios."
Kelly is charged with harassment through electronic communications and two counts of tampering with communications services. Both are misdemeanors. The case has been referred to the FBI, and the sheriff's office has taken measures to prevent a future security breach, Balmes said.
She also noted Kelly was said to have been a police explorer in one community and a fire explorer in another, but she did not provide specifics.
Jail personnel communicate with each other while on duty using portable radios, which are not open to anyone outside the jail staff, Balmes said. While someone on the outside may have the skill to listen in, "most people don't have the ability or the knowledge to transmit on these radios," she added.
"He was able to program frequencies on a portable radio, one being our jail. He was able to reprogram them so he could transmit as well," she said.
According to Balmes, Kelly would insert "brief bursts of statements" at times during those two days.
"It was the repeated use of the 'N' word. The officers, I imagine were shocked. We know this was an intruder. We knew it wasn't someone with our agency," Balmes said.
Transmissions are recorded and specific radios can be connected to their assigned users, she said.
"He (Kelly) programmed his radio so it would (call) like a radio that belonged to us but it wasn't," she said.
Sheriff's police notified other agencies of the situation and learned Kelly previously had been charged in a similar incident by the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office, she added. That information led to Kelly being located.
He remained jailed Wednesday and would need to post 10 percent of the $10,000 bond to be released. A court date was set for Dec. 5.