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Deejays to pay investigative costs of hoax

LOS ANGELES -- Three radio station disc jockeys who concocted and broadcast a phony murder confession will have to personally pay the cost of the legal investigation set off by their hoax.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had earlier this month billed the station, KROQ-FM, $12,170 for 149 hours of detective work by a homicide investigator who tried to solve the non-existent killing.

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But now, in addition to making financial restitution out of their own pockets, 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 told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday.

'It was a lack of responsiblity 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 the exact nature of the community service had not been worked out yet.

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On Monday, KROQ 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 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.

The three deejays were suspended without pay for six days after the hoax was disclosed on April 11.

The FCC's investigation also focuses on how KROQ-FM hired Roberts four months after the confession aired.

The station told the FCC that Roberts' hiring last October had no connection to the incident, though the deejay was recommended for the job by Ryder and Baxter.

Lerman said that the station had no idea Roberts was connected with the hoax when he was hired.

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 Association of Broadcasters, Lerman said.

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