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Deejays to Pay $12,170 Bill for Murder Hoax

May 14, 1991|CLAUDIA PUIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The three KROQ-FM disc jockeys who concocted and broadcast a phony murder confession that generated a lengthy law enforcement investigation will pay out of their own pockets a $12,170 bill from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deptartment, the station's attorney said Monday.

The sheriff's department had presented the bill to the station earlier this month to compensate for the 149 hours that a homicide detective spent attempting to solve the murder case.

In addition to making financial restitution, each of the three deejays--Kevin Ryder, Gene (Bean) Baxter and Doug Roberts--will be required by Infinity Corp., which owns KROQ, to perform 149 hours of community service, said Infinity attorney Steven A. Lerman.

"The fact that they're paying this out of their pockets is reflective of the fact that they are the culpable people," Lerman said. "It was a lack of responsibility on the part of the disc jockeys and they've acknowledged that in their on-air apologies. . . . They are taking on this community service thing at the company's suggestion, but they're happy to do it."

Lerman said that the exact nature of the community service had not been worked out yet.

KROQ(106.7) on Monday submitted a 200-page response to a letter of inquiry from the Federal Communications Commission, which is investigating the hoax. The main focus of the agency's inquiry centers on whether station management was involved in the fraud.

After the hoax was made public, KROQ officials said that they had no prior knowledge of the June 13, 1990, broadcast, in which a caller confessed to fatally beating his girlfriend. Station management has said repeatedly that it did not know the caller was actually Roberts, then a deejay in Mesa, Ariz., and that Ryder and Baxter (known as "Kevin and Bean") had dreamed up the scheme.

"Neither management nor (the station) ownership had any knowledge about the hoax until April, at which time they took a host of steps designed to deal with the situation," Lerman said. "They cooperated with police and disciplined the disc jockeys."

The three deejays were suspended for six days without pay following disclosure of the hoax on April 11.

Another aspect of the FCC's investigation focuses on the hiring of Roberts, which occurred four months after the confession aired. The station told the FCC in its response that Roberts' hiring last October had no connection to the incident, though the deejay was recommended for the job by Ryder and Baxter.

"There was absolutely no nexus between his hiring and this incident," Lerman said in a telephone interview Monday. "The management had absolutely no inkling that he had had anything to do with the hoax. Kevin and Bean did recommend him for the job. They had worked together (in Arizona). Roberts had wanted for a long time to work for KROQ. . . . He went through the normal review and hiring procedure."

In its response to the FCC, Infinity Corp. also offered to publish a pamphlet on how to avoid similar hoaxes and said it would distribute it to every radio and television station in the country, as well as to the National Assn. of Broadcasters, Lerman said.

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