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Judge Slams Man with 14-Year Sentence for 'Lasing' Helicopter

A 26-year old California man learns "lasing" a helicopter is no joke after a federal judge sentenced him to 14-years in prison. (I take back what I said earlier about Kalifornia judges! It's a federal matter anyhow.) ( Mehr...

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jbermo 6
Hard prison time is no answer for "kids playing with toys" - and the Feds will prove that they will not discriminate. A witch hunt at best, the answer is to sock em with heavy $$ fines and lengthy probation.
PhotoFinish 3
Wow!! That's a long time. There are murderers that get less time than that.

Bu if you're going to create a deterrent with a long prison sentence, it might has well be a gang member. At least it'll take another thug off out streets, and eliminate all the violent and property crimes this individual would've committed had he remained at large in the community.
biz jets -3
I live in Richmond Hill (Toronto) and fly out of CYKZ (Buttonville) - we just had a kid recently charged with the same offense - shinning a laser on our local Police chopper;

Personally I'd be shocked if he got a day in jail, but we'll see what happens.

Fourteen years is crazy - for those arguing - because he could have killed someone - had any aircraft ever been brought down by a store bought laser??? Anyone ????

Drunk drivers kill people every day - and thousand get charged with DUI - each and every one of them had more chance to kill someone than anyone shining any laser ever - so what - we should be sentencing hundreds of thousands of drunk drivers to 15 or 25 year terms to??
biz jets -2
and I guess if your gang affiliated and you get drunk driving - lets just make it a life sentence.
Just because.
steve mondral 1
Is this the same type of laser used in classrooms and business presentations or something more powerful? I'm not trying to downplay the danger just trying to get a better understanding.
biz jets 3
Newspaper stated it was 13 times more powerful than the little pointer you buy to play with your cat.
CaptainFreedom 1
14 years is a long sentence, however 1) what is this guy's criminal background?, 2) how muich tiem will he actually spend in prison (5 yrs?), and 3) think of all of the people who could have potentially died on the aircraft and on the ground.
biz jets -1
1. lengthy and known gang member. 2. about 7 1/2 years, 3. Never have I ever heard of an aircraft brought down by a store bought laser.
Thomas Cain 3
As for question 2, there's only 15% reduction for good behavior (According to his lawyer in the story), so he'll face a minimum of 12 years in prison.
biz jets 1
I stand corrected - I did look into this, seems he was charged Federally - he is not going to a State Prison - he is going to a Federal Prison - and under Federal Guidelines - all Federal Inmates must serve a minimum of 85 percent of there time in custody.
biz jets 1
Lawyers rarely know anything about prison and prison time - due to the fact California accepts Federal Funding for it's prisons, part of that deal - the only inmates who serve 85 percent are those convicted for violent crimes as listed by the Federal Govt. (not California).

If the conviction is for a violent crime (by definition of the USA Federal Govt.) then it is 85 percent, if not it is - you can not be released until you have served a minimum of 50 percent.

However you have to be at the prison you are going to be serving your time, and employed in order to be earning day for day in reducing the other 50 percent.
Er.A.K. Mittal 0
Non pilots dot know many aspects of aviation.
SAME is true for non legal persons about Law and Lawyers.
So kindly avoid treading into a territory you are utterly ignorant of ! Or even hopefully incompetent too .
biz jets 1
Actually what I posted is accurate - if anything about it you feel you know better - please post the correct information - Ill wager you can not.
Er.A.K. Mittal 2
" .... Lawyers rarely know anything about prison and prison time .... "
Isn't it a too sweeping statement ? And hence not in good taste !
If you still want to stick to your views, I am no match for your ignorance about Law,Lawyers and Legal System.
biz jets 0
Seriously - you attack a post, get challenged, can't answer a simple question - and offer nothing of substance.

Wait a minute - you must be a lawyer!!!
Torsten Hoff 3
Regarding point #3, who cares? Substantial damage can be done without actually causing a crash. Did you read the top-most comment to that story (quoted below)? How would you like to have your certificate and source of income pulled for six month?

Tom Workman
The punishment may be extreme to some, but one of my colleagues had a temporary loss of vision while taking off from Las Vegas while piloting a B737. He was temporarily blinded for over two hours and it took several days to recover and six months before the FAA gave him back his medical. My punishment wouldn't cost the government a cent. A bullet is cheap!
Peter Cooper 1
Shining a laser beam into a pilot's eyes can and does cause temporary blindness.That does not improve a pilot's ability to fly an aircraft....temporary blindness means temporary inability to control the aircraft. Not something that is to be welcomed, I would have thought. The fact that some gang member has used a laser, knowing full well that (a) it is an offence and (b) the possible ramifications of his act can only serve to show that a lot more deterrent is required than a few months. Perhaps the offender's previous criminal record didn't actually help push the Judge's thoughts on possible sentences towards some degree of leniency.
alun samuel 1
Why don't they ban the things? I can't see the point in them anyway.
Er.A.K. Mittal 0
May seem too stiff but considering the long term ramifications one can not be too sure if a lenient view would have been a safe proposition!
Check out a view reported and that says a lot
" .... Douglas Ralph, a Delta Air Lines captain, told U.S. News the FBI bounty - and subsequent prosecutions - would likely frighten “lasing” culprits and teens into complying with the law. ...... "
The science of Penology clearly lays down that one of the main objectives of punishment is the ' deterrent ' factor.
Deterrence effect is or can be of two kinds. One the direct kind and another one can the disqualification/s the convict earns due to length of term of sentence and/or the nature or class of offence.
I am sure during appeal the prosecution will play along these likely lines. Plus a few more.
You donot always punish a person for harm that has been caused. But many a time,on the basis of what could have happened in the most likelihood.
bbabis 0

Sorry, I just don't see the almost 4,000 supposed laser incidents in 2013. Of course any pilot that makes a bad landing can say something interfered with their eyesight. I think the Asiana pilots tried that one also. Should any laser be pointed at anyone for fun and kicks? Definitely No! That being said, I can only imagine it has become such a hot-button item because the majority of incidents have to do with law enforcement aircraft. The biggest problem in being "lit up" by a laser to me wouldn't be as much about my eyes as it would be knowing a bullet could be pointed my way. Thankfully this isn't a huge problem and, as many other posters have mentioned, we have much more serious and deadly issues that our court system should make "examples" of.
siriusloon 0
Some of the store-bought lasers are incredibly powerful and they could end a pilot's career. A Canadian air force Sea King pilot was lased by a Russian "trawler" several years ago and never flew again and there have been other cases involving civilian aircraft and civilians on the ground with lasers. I just counted and found I own a total of six lasers, all in my workshop. They're everywhere and easily obtainable. Banning them won't work and isn't it ironic that some people want to ban lasers, but not guns, which can also bring down an aircraft.
Bernie20910 4
Yes, ban lasers, ban guns, ban drones, ban whatever, because it's always easier to just ban something rather than correct the behavior. Wouldn't want little Johnny or little Susie to be permanently scarred for life by getting punished for bad behavior as children when we can just ban the things they use to misbehave. Spare the rod and spoil the child anyone?

Banning is not the answer.

Teaching respect and responsibility, and that actions have consequences, THOSE are the answers.
Er.A.K. Mittal 1
" ... Banning is not the answer. ..... "
Rightly said. That is why in every legal system they talk of regulation not of total or absolute ban. And of public interest, safety included. What may some times seem like a ban (say, for drugs) is in the form of regulation.
And the modes you have pointed can and generally do form apart of regulatory process, and are never limited to law or legal provisions. Which ever be the jurisdiction (Legal system or Country).
Er.A.K. Mittal -1
I have often opined that strongly law oriented squawk must NOT be discussed .This is an totally unsuitable platform for this .
So decide if persons fairly uniformed about law be encouraged to comment on Law ? If some of you want to delve into Law, please subscribe to one of the many many Law oriented portals.
Do not make a mockery of Law , Legal System and/or Lawyers, like Aviators won't like some one belittling flying profession !
I am sure that Mr. Zachary Colescott desires or desired the discussion on social aspect and general public danger. Not to convert FlightAware into LawAware !
biz jets 0
Speaking of FlightAware/Lawaware - just a quick look at your photos, including an aircraft I fly - a quicker search thru google image shows you've been downloading other peoples photos. That's not very kool - especially for Mr. Law!!

Sample of one of your photos;

Where you got it from;

Er.A.K. Mittal 2
Did I ever claim them to be mine ? Never !
Since there is no system or provision for declaring the source or 'copyright' how can any one or I give details ? The way we can give in cases of squawks submitted .
So try your mud slinging habit else where.
biz jets 1
Did I ever claim them to be mine ? Never !

Actually you did, when you download a photo - you do so on thie page;

It states; Please do not post photos you do not own - underneath it states License Agreement - click on it for photo policy at FlightAware;

It states; FlightAware Media License
Do not submit content you do not own (e.g., work belonging to someone else or that you found on the Internet).

PS; Ignorance of rulss or Ignorance of laws is no excuse. So by posting other peoples photos - yes you are saying they are yours, and it there not yours - you shouldn't be downloading.

In your legalese - feel free to spin this one :)
Bernie20910 1
Do you often get confused by "down" and "up"? I think that would be a serious handicap for someone claiming to be a pilot...
biz jets 0
Downloaded from net - uploaded to FlightAware
biz jets 0
I can assure you that any photo I have downloaded on either of my avatar's are 100 percent my own - my name is on it because the photos are mine.

It doesn't take a professed legal expert to do a google image check to find the original photographer/source - and from there fairly easy to find if you've violated copyright materials.

As you appear to have been a member of FlightAware for 3 years, the FlightAware downloading of photos appears to have changed over time - my guess due to people like yourself, downloading other peoples photos. ie; they've had to cover their but - kinda like your doing.

There is this other thing though, were legal experts - especially those that spout the world of law - ahh - with arrogance - nose in the air - better than you attitude - should be held to a higher degree.

Bottom line, Busted. hahaha

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Torsten Hoff 5
The guy lased a medical transport helicopter before hitting the Sheriff's helicopter and has a lengthy history of criminal conduct and gang affiliation.

Maybe if he had some redeeming qualities as a human being he would have gotten a lighter sentence, but I don't believe he was made an example of because of his race, or that of the judge. Keep in mind that what he did could have resulted in a much longer sentence (20 years).

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
I would argue the original ruling you speak of was underkill. We need more of a deterrent.
Er.A.K. Mittal 1
..... We need more of a deterrent. .....

Golden words.

And this about sums up the objective of posting such a squawk on an Aviation Portal .
Otherwise it's more suitable for a Legal Forum as I have written in another comment.
biz jets -2
So the answer for the country with the most percentage of it's population locked up than has ever existed in mankind, is just lock more people up and for longer.

Sounds like a head in the sand solution.
allench1 -1
You are an idiot! why? because we are a free country we have many other nationals that we accept especially from South America that occupy many cells in our system also please quote us the facts that you must have to make such a demeaning statement. Oh, and for the sand I know what I would put in the sand....
biz jets 2
So your the only person on earth that doesn't know the USA incarcerates more persons both in percentages and in actual numbers.

Only a small mind goes around name calling.
Your comment was spot on. In the United States the largest, most violent, most money hungry and most uncontrolled people are those in "Law Enforcement" starting with the cops, all the way up to the Judges.
I won't group them all in that category, but I'll say a very good percentage of them are...
biz jets 1
This reply is for allench1 - I suggest you man up - as you have no interest in listen to factual information from me, here is a video from 'TED' - it's 23 minutes long and it is exactly what I mean.

In the United States in 1972 there were 300k incarcerated, in 2012 the number is now 2.3 million with another 7 million on probation or parole.

USA now has 1 in 3 young black males in jail/probation/parole, in many major USA cities currently ethnic young males 50 - 60 percent are in jail/probation/parole.

VIDEO: Bryan Stevenson
Charles Arkens 1
This comment would be very different for first time there is a crash because of lasing.
biz jets 1
However we're talking about something that has never happened the world over - ever!!
I'd like to see people take drunk driving a little more seriously - that kills thousands every year, and what kind of sentence do you get for a DUI - nothing.

I'm not for shining lasers in peoples faces, however on takeoff I wouldn't even notice, and landing - your hopefully extremely focused - I don't see why it would take you down - ever.
Torsten Hoff 2
How are you going to land without being able to see the runway or your instruments?
biz jets 1
Why would I stare into a laser, and I can see everything just fine in my shiny new Falcon.

If your in the dark and someone shines a light in your face - do you look into the light or look away - personally I look away.
siriusloon 1
You don't need to stare into a laser for it to do damage to your eyes and the light is so much more intense than ordinary light that by the time you look away, it's too late. This isn't a mini-flashlight we're talking about here.
PhotoFinish 1
You would have to look directly into the laser beam to get retenal damage. You don't get any eye damage permanent or temporary from a laser shining on the bottom of the plane or even the wall/ceiling of the cockpit.

The pilot would have to cock his head and intentionally look sideways and down toward the origin of the laser to see where it is coming from.

It is safe to say that the investigating the laser is secondary to other more important duties necesaary to the approach. The laser is at best a distraction. At worst damaging to the more curious amongst us.

"Oh look a laser." should not be an indication to look, but to look away.

Some numbskull on the ground 'playing' with lasers may or may not know the potential danger(s) to the plane and its' occupants. However, at this point, no pilot should ever again from this second forward be able to get behind the controls of any airplane without knowing the possible dangers of looking directly into a laser.
blake1023 1
So let me get this straight...

You're on approach or takeoff roll with your shiny new Falcon, and someone hits you with a laser, you would look away... Explain to me and everyone else how that is safe and wouldnt cause a problem - ever!
allench1 0
You sir are an idiot for bringing race and politics into this forum. Our justice system does not need your inept judgement!! Now, about Canada's drug mayor? I wont go there....
biz jets 4
Guess I won't mention Marion Barry - oops to late;
Now there's a blast from the past!!!
James Driskell 1
Makes a might good pie!


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