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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 VLM on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:45PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:45PM (#14605)

    This will be almost as handy as swatting, for harassment.

    All you need is a cheap laser pointer, go near the victims land, lase some cops, maybe traffic helicopters, and your victim will be busted. Its not like there's a fingerprint or something, and the odds of someone owning a laser pointer are pretty decent. Then the cops bust the nearest minority or nearest excon or whatever, who hopefully is your selected victim.

    Doesn't have to be some crazy "over the internet" stalker thing, it would work just as well if our buddy here bangs some other chick at a party, the girlfriend finds out about it, mr one night stand owns a laser pointer and she knows and uses it (or one like it), so she "wins". Scorned chicks can be completely nuts, even if she gets hard time as long as he gets busted she'll probably still be happy. Then get the federal prostituter to press charges for attempted mass murder, terrorism, assault with a deadly weapon, blah blah blah line up dozens of scary sounding charges, and explain if he'll just plead guilty to a simple lesser charge of lasing an airplane, rather than 56 life sentences and the death penalty, he'll get a couple years... Ta da, thats the modern justice system for you, everyone wins financially, and otherwise. Well, except for the guy in jail, but no one cares about justice anymore, so that's OK.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by wonkey_monkey on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:05PM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:05PM (#14618) Homepage

    Its not like there's a fingerprint or something

    How do you know? There may well have been a fingerprint in this case. There may well have been a purchase history showing that this guy owned the laser pointer in question. There may well have been video footage showing the light coming from a particular apartment, and possibly footage identifying the user.

    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:28PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:28PM (#14626)

      OK true for this very specific case, I was discussing the general concept of the crime as applies to swatting in general. I meant no fingerprint as an inherent part of the crime. Like its hard to steal a car without getting fingerprints on it and at least some DNA, but when lasing, red light is just red light and its rather hard to prove the victim's laser which never left his briefcase or bookshelf or the mount on his handgun locked in his safe was not the swatter's laser.

      The ultimate "swatting attack" using a laser would be bouncing the beam off the victim's window to hit the cop copter or cop car or whatever. That way it would appear to come from the victim's window.

      I think this could be a very effective swatting attack in general, nationwide, at any time to any one, etc. Not claiming this particular idiot was a swatting victim.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bucc5062 on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:07PM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:07PM (#14619)

    The article was lacking in details on how they caught the guy, but in your scenario, I would hope fingerprinting might help to prove someone did not use the laser. Since this is a distance crime it is hard to prove someone was at the right spot shining a laser at an aircraft without a witness, ownership of and fingerprints on the laser device, and or corroborating evidence.

    I am just as cynical as you about our Justice system, but generally I think it still tries to work properly.

    The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:39PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:39PM (#14629)

      Except that you don't start with the laser. You start with the house that the laser appeared to have been pointed from, and when find a laser pointer it's going to be the one owned by the person who lives there, NOT the one that was used from his lawn half an hour earlier.

      So looking for fingerprints, what are you likely to find? The fingerprints of the perpetrator (who was never in the house), or the fingerprints of the guy who owns that laser pointer?

      • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:55PM

        by bucc5062 (699) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:55PM (#14637)

        Your story assumes that the rightful owner of the house has a pointer. If it does not? What then. Police storm the house, because they had a report that a laser light came from that property. Hopefully they have a search warrant, but when the search the house, no laser.

        The idea of swatting(?) someone like this rests on the premise that that person you want to get arrested has the offending object. Joe shoots his wife, because she was enjoying Bob's pleasures. He drops gun off at Bob's with the idea that the police will think Bob did it? Except Bob doesn't own a gun (or that gun). There has to be something tangible to tie a person to an act.

        The more things change, the more they look the same
        • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:54PM

          by hemocyanin (186) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:54PM (#14673) Journal

          In US justice, not finding a laser would simply be iron-clad proof that the person disposed of it.