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September 23, 2023


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Man sentenced to five years for blinding sheriff’s helicopter crew with laser

Man sentenced to five years for blinding sheriff’s helicopter crew with laser

Don Sweeney

The Charlotte Observer

A California man who pleaded guilty to shining a laser-pointer beam at a sheriff’s helicopter, briefly blinding the crew, will serve five years in prison, federal prosecutors reported.

The 48-year-old Santa Ana man hit an Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter four times with a green laser pointer, aiming the beam at the cockpit in the April 2020 incident, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern California said in a news release.

The laser blinded the pilot and tactical flight officer for several seconds, “jeopardizing the safety of the flight crew, the helicopter, other nearby aircraft, and people on the ground,” the release said.

Officers located the source of the beam and followed the man to a shopping mall parking lot, where he threw a laser pointer out of his vehicle, prosecutors said.

He previously had been convicted in 2015 for shining a laser at an aircraft and was warned in March 2020 after shining a laser at a helicopter from his backyard, the release said.

He entered a guilty plea in the latest case in November 2021, prosecutors said. He was sentenced Monday, Sept. 12.

©2022 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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