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posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the it-was-only-a-matter-of-time dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Scott Smith reports at AP that 26-year-old Sergio Patrick Rodriguez has been convicted of pointing a green laser at a Fresno Police Department helicopter and sentenced to spend 14 years in federal prison. 'This is not a game. It is dangerous, and it is a felony,' says US Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. 'Those who aim lasers at aircraft should know that we will seek to convict them, and we will seek to send them to prison. The safety of aircraft and the people in them demands no less.' According to evidence presented at trial, Rodriguez and his girlfriend, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 23, used a high-powered green laser pointer 13 times more powerful than common pointers to repeatedly strike the cockpit of Air 1 during a clear summer night in 2012. In imposing the sentence, Judge O'Neill considered not only the severity of the offenses but Rodriguez's criminal history, numerous probation violations, and Bulldog gang affiliation. An expert said that the laser pointer that Rodriguez used was an instrument capable of inflicting serious bodily injury and death due to a high potential for crash caused by visual interference. A jury found Rodriguez guilty of attempting to interfere with safe operation of aircraft and aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. 'Lasing aircraft is not a joke or a casual prank,' says Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the FBI's Sacramento field office. 'Rodriguez's sentence clearly demonstrates the seriousness of his actions and that the FBI will work with its law enforcement partners to locate and arrest those who engage in dangerous, improper use of hand-held lasers that puts us all at risk.'

On February 11, 2014, in 12 cities, the FBI, in collaboration with the Air Line Pilots Association International and the FAA, announced the Laser Threat Awareness campaign, a nationwide effort to alert the public to the threat that aircraft laser illumination poses and the penalties for such activity. The FBI will offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. The program is being rolled out in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Los Angeles and Sacramento, California; Philadelphia; Phoenix, Arizona; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York; and San Juan, Puerto Rico."

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by sigterm on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:31PM

    by sigterm (849) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:31PM (#14598)

    This was not some 12-year-old playing with a regular laser pointer, not realizing what the consequences could be. Mr Rodriguez, 26, deliberately and repeatedly tried to blind the pilot of a helicopter with a powerful laser, and I consider this response from the justice system to be entirely appropriate.

    Morons like this guy are causing legislators all over the world to consider passing laws banning lasers or regulating them to the point where you need a special permit to buy, own, or use one. Perhaps verdicts like this will make these idiots exercise some restraint.

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by zafiro17 on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:53PM

    by zafiro17 (234) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:53PM (#14672) Homepage

    I agree lazing (or whatever they want to call it) is a serious issue, and this wasn't just some punk with a laser pointer, it was lowlife scum with a history of trouble with the law.

    I see this, rather, as an opportunity to put a lowlife behind bars. But that brings up another issue:

    The jails are filling up with this sort of person, and it's expensive. I would've preferred they just blind him in one eye (with a laser, naturally) and call it a day.

    The US is in desperate need of some legal reform - stuffing the jails with people like this (for a 15 year sentence, no less!) is ridiculous.

    Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis - Jack Handey
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by metamonkey on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:15PM

    by metamonkey (3174) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:15PM (#14778)

    Also, the police helicopter showed up because he had already been lasering the emergency helicopter for a children's hospital. The guy tried to crash a helicopter, murdering sick children and medical personnel, then tried to murder the cops who showed up to stop him. And he's only getting 14 years?!

    Okay 3, 2, 1, let's jam.
  • (Score: 2) by SyntaxError on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:29PM

    by SyntaxError (1577) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:29PM (#14794)

    They should probably ban murder while they are at it too.
    If somebody is dumb enough to do this they won't be moved by any laws or punishments.