An amateur radio operator from Waukegan was arrested Tuesday after authorities said he breached security and used racially offensive language on a Lake County Sheriff’s Office corrections radio communications system, officials said.
Raymond J. Kelly, 24, of the 4800 block of Eastwood Court, was charged with two counts of tampering with jail communications, as well as one count of harassment through electronic communications, said Sara Balmes, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
Officers allegedly heard him repeatedly using a racial epithet used to describe black people over the communications line overnight on Saturday and Sunday, Balmes said.
Kelly, who had formerly participated in youth explorer programs with “multiple” police and fire agencies, was charged with a similar crime by Kenosha County Sheriff’s office, she said.
When looking for suspects, “we requested if any other agencies had similar instances to let us know,” Balmes said. “That is how we knew about the Kenosha suspect. So we reached out to them, which led us to the suspect.”
Balmes said that she did not know where Kelly had worked as an explorer or when the Kenosha incident occurred.
Kenosha County authorities were unavailable for comment Wednesday.
During a search of Kelly’s residence, authorities seized radio and electronic equipment, officials said.
Balmes, who said the office was declining requests to provide audiotapes from the incident, said it involved “repeated use of the n-word.”
“It was not directed to anyone in particular,” she said.
Kelly is not licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as an amateur radio operator, Balmes said.
Kelly’s jail bond is set at $10,000, and the case has been referred to the FBI, officials said.
He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 5.
“The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has implemented measures to prevent a future security breach,” according to a news release.
Balmes described Wednesday as: ”Not your typical day at the sheriff’s office.”