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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: 2) by frojack on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:02PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:02PM (#14769) Journal

    As to your first part:
    The sentence in court probably had several components, some for each different charge, and some to run concurrently, and some to run consecutively. This information is lost to the fog journalism, and we are left with what is probably an in-accurate representation of the actual sentence.

    So don't rush to assume that this sentence was simply to send a message to other. That might be how the police spin it, but that doesn't mean that's how the judge graveled it down.

    Other reports [] indicate that his girlfriend can get at most 5 years for the EXACT same crime.

    Judge O’Neill cited Rodriguez’s criminal past, which includes probation violations and gang affiliation, as additional reasons for the sentence. This guy needed to be off the streets anyway.

    Don't rush to condemn the Judge for the words of prosecutors and police.

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  • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:30AM

    by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @03:30AM (#15008) Journal

    yeah, I was thinking 5 years would be harsh enough to make a statement to the world, 14 years just seems excessive, but with the long criminal history, seems about right.