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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: 0, Troll) by citizenr on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:48PM

    by citizenr (2737) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:48PM (#14663)

    So its 18 years for 'lasing.
    Wanna bet he would get less for just killing heli pilot with a hammer, or a car?

    This is just as stupid as millions in damages for copying mp3s.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Cowherd on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:14PM

    by Anonymous Cowherd (3699) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:14PM (#14691)

    Can't believe I have to respond to this. What if the pilot got temporarily blinded & crashes the aircraft in some heavily populated place? How well does your hammer analogy work then?

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kogspg on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:20PM

    by kogspg (850) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:20PM (#14712)

    Did you even RTFS? He got 14 years, not 18. The laser pointer was 13, THIRTEEN times more powerful than a regular laser pointer. He had a criminal history, probation violations, and gang affiliation, all of which were accounted for when determining how long to lock him away. My initial reaction was the same as yours after considering the necessary facts it's totally reasonable.

  • (Score: 1) by FakeBeldin on Thursday March 13 2014, @10:29AM

    by FakeBeldin (3360) on Thursday March 13 2014, @10:29AM (#15789) Journal

    As mentioned in TFA and in comments, he was shining a powerful laser at two helicopters in operation (one being a medical heli). Moreover, he did so with a device certainly capable of having its effects reach the helicopters and the people inside them. Finally, he had enough skill with the device to use it effectively -- if we're going to construct an analogy, let's keep that aspect in as well.

    Thus, a more appropriate analogy would be:
    "Wanna bet he would get less for being a trained sniper and just shooting at both heli pilots with a sniper rifle?"

    You know what, I don't think the answer to that one is "yes"... and that is without considering all the aggravating circumstances.