A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: $13,241 in fines, 15 days in jail for Washington state man who aimed at a ferry

On December 27 2016 the U.S. Coast Guard assessed a civil penalty of $9,500 against Mark Raden, 27, for “interfering with the safe operation of a vessel” by aiming a blue laser at a Washington state ferry on October 22 2015. One of the ferry’s officers was said to have burns on his eyelid.

Raden also pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in Island County Superior Court. He was ordered to serve 15 days in jail, perform 240 hours of community service, pay $3,740.89 in restitution to the master and chief mate, and serve 24 months probation.

On April 26 2016, the Coast Guard issued a civil penalty of $100,000 against Raden. According to a Coast Guard press release at the time, “Coast Guard officials are seeking civil penalties for violation of a safety and security zone as well as interference with the safe operation of the Tokitae [ferry] while it transited between Mukilteo and Clinton [in Washington state]. The final civil penalty amount [which turned out to be $9,500] will be determined by a Coast Guard Hearing Officer in Arlington, Va.”

A Coast Guard spokesperson told Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica "Originally there were multiple charges that brought the maximum amount to $100,000 [as] referenced in the original [press] release. Ultimately the hearing officer has the final say and chose to only pursue the one charge for 'interfering with the safe operation of a vessel' and assessed a fine of $9,500."

Raden has previously been in trouble for misusing a laser. In July 2015, Raden and his friend Dillon Reisman, 27, were aiming a laser into house windows in Langley, Washington, in order to “cause alarm to anyone trying to sleep.” When confronted by police, Raden repeatedly aimed the laser beam into an officer’s face. Felony charges were not filed until November 18 2015.

In yet another incident, police said Raden was accused of using a laser and acid as weapons.

From the Chronicle, the San Juan Islander and Ars Technica. The original LaserPointerSafety.com story about the incident is here; an updated story with news about Raden’s arrest and the Coast Guard penalty is here. Additional details of Raden’s previous run-ins over misusing lasers can be found in an April 11 2016 HeraldNet story.

UK: Woman sentenced for illegal laser imports that injured boy's eyesight

A 47-year-old Surrey woman was sentenced in mid-July 2016 to 240 hours of community service for illegally importing 300 over-powered lasers. One of the lasers was sold for £6 (USD $9) at a school Christmas fair and subsequently caused an eye injury to a seven-year-old boy.

Lynsey McClure had imported the lasers from a Chinese supplier who said they complied with U.K. regulations limiting laser pens to 1 milliwatt of power. Her brother, who was not charged, sold them in a stall during a school fair in December 2015. The headmaster asked her brother to stop selling the laser, but he continued.

Lynsey McClure laser
Lynsey McClure


Jonathan Marshall, 7, purchased one of the lasers. It was later found to have an output of 127 milliwatts.

His mother said Jonathan was playing with it at home when the beam went into his eye for “a fraction of a second.” He has a retinal burn which interferes with his vision.

McClure pleaded guilty to nine product safety and consumer protection violations, including selling an unsafe product and failing to disclose the power of the laser.

The case appears to be the first where a person has been prosecuted for an illegal laser sale that led to an injury.

From the Sunday Times (subscription required to read the entire article) and the JC.com

US: UPDATED - Wash. state man charged with lasing ferry; ordered to pay $100,000 fine

27-year-old Mark Raden was alleged to have injured two ferry captains with a nominal 1-watt blue handheld laser. The captains were temporarily blinded and had eye irritation after the October 22 2015 incident. On April 1 2016, Raden was charged with two counts of third-degree assault. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The almost six-month delay was due in part because the crime took place in waters between jurisdictions, making it more complex to determine who would prosecute.

Raden has previously been in trouble for misusing a laser. In July 2015, Raden and his friend Dillon Reisman, 27, were aiming a laser into house windows in Langley, Washington, in order to “cause alarm to anyone trying to sleep.” When confronted by police, Raden repeatedly aimed the laser beam into an officer’s face. Felony charges were not filed until November 18 2015.

In yet another incident, police said Raden was accused of using a laser and acid as weapons.

From MyNorthwest.com

UPDATED - May 2 2016: The U.S. Coast Guard issued a civil penalty of $100,000 against Raden on April 26 2016. According to a Coast Guard press release, “Coast Guard officials are seeking civil penalties for violation of a safety and security zone as well as interference with the safe operation of the Tokitae while it transited between Mukilteo and Clinton. The final civil penalty amount will be determined by a Coast Guard Hearing Officer in Arlington, Va.” The text of the press release is below (click on the “Read More…” link).

Click to read more...

US: Colorado senior used laser pointer while stalking 10-year-old neighbor girl

A 67-year-old Green Mountain Falls, Colorado man convicted of stalking a 10-year-old neighbor girl, used a laser pointer as part of his crimes. Louis Pico aimed the pointer at the girl’s window at night. When she looked out, he would expose himself to the girl.

In addition, the man left notes, money and candy for the girl, and used binoculars to look into their home.

Louis Pico laser stalker
Louis Pico


To avoid having their child testify at a trial, the victim’s parents agreed to a plea bargain deal. Pico pleaded guilty to promotion of obscenity in a minor. He received a 30-day jail sentence, was registered as a sex offender, was forbidden to have any contact with persons 18 or younger, and was required to have mental health treatment.

From KKTV 11 News and The Gazette

US: UPDATED - NFL fan banned from Detroit games, faces charge for aiming laser at football players

The NFL football fan who shined a green laser pointer beam at two players on October 5 2014, has been “banned indefinitely from attending all future events at Ford Field,” according to an October 9 press release from the Detroit Lions football team.

In addition, the person was charged with disorderly conduct by the Detroit City Prosecutor’s Office. This is a misdemeanor and would require payment of a small fine ($50, according to WSJM.com).

Finally, the Ford Field season ticket holder whose tickets were used by the laser-wielding person has had his tickets revoked for the remainder of the 2014 football season (e.g., five regular season home games).

In the October 9 press release, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand wrote “[T]his occurrence was unique in that it could have affected the integrity of the game and more importantly could have jeopardized player safety.”

The Lions’ statement did not name the individual. Detroit city attorney Melvin Hollowell identified the person as a 17-year-old from the Detroit-area township of West Bloomfield, Michigan.

ESPN reported that the person was “Mark Beslach”, ABC News reported he was “Marko Beslach, a recent high-school graduate.”

Marko Beslach ABC News laser pointer Lions Bills Orton
The person identified as Marko Beslach by ABC News on its program “World News Tonight”


In a statement to the press, Lewand was asked if the season-ticket holder was the youth’s father. Lewand declined to give specifics but did say there was a close relationship between the laser perpetrator and the ticket holder.

A person with the account “Marko Beslach” tweeted before and after the game on October 5, about having a laser pointer and having used it on Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton. The tweet was later deleted, but not before a screenshot was recorded.

Lewand said the tweets were part of how they found the perpetrator: “I certainly don’t think he did himself any favors by talking about it.”

The Lions said that stadium security and operations staffs worked with team security, NFL security, and Detroit Police to find and penalize the perpetrator.

The ban will be implemented, according to Lewand, using technologies such as paperless ticketing, camera monitoring systems and identification processes. If the ban was violated, the person would be prosecuted for trespassing.

Lewand also noted that ticket holders who sell their tickets are responsible for the behavior of the buyers. The sellers could lose their rights to tickets if the buyer causes problems.

Laser pointers are banned from all 32 NFL stadiums.

From the Detroit Lions press release, ESPN, ABC News, WSJM.com and FOX Sports. For details about the original incident, and the initial reports about the Marko Beslach tweets, see this LaserPointerSafety.com story.

UPDATED - October 10 2014: News source MLive.com reported that the father of the laser-wielding youth has asked for police protection due to harassment from Buffalo Bills fans. Details are in this LaserPointerSafety.com story.

UPDATED - June 29 2015: Marko Beslach in November 2014 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He was fined $235, had to do 80 hours of community service, and was given a one-year suspended sentence. He will have his case reviewed November 23 2015. From the Detroit Free Press.

Switzerland: UEFA fines Serbian club for incidents against U.K. club, including laser pointers

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has penalized the Partizan team of Belgrade due to a number of fan-caused incidents during a September 18 2014 match with U.K.’s Tottenham Hotspur. These included: displaying an anti-Semitic banner, use of fireworks and a laser pointers, and a pitch invasion.

On October 6 2014, UEFA ordered Partizan to close one section of their stadium for their next home game on October 23. The club was also fined €40,000 (USD $50,340).

Partizan had previously issued a statement saying “We fully condemn perpetrators of this mindless act, not only of antisemitic nature, but one that represents hatred of Partizan and Serbia as well.”

From the Daily Mail and the Guardian

US: Motocross rider's brother said to aim laser pointer at rivals during race

A professional motocross organization issued fines totaling $15,500 plus additional penalties after the brother of competitor Mike Alessi was accused of aiming a green laser pointer into the eyes of his brother’s rivals just before a race began. The incident occurred July 20 2013 during the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, held in Washington state.

A video from the helmet cam of one of the targeted racers shows green flashes on his front visor, just before the starting gate drops. In addition, a photo taken at the same time shows a green glow above a distant spectator’s shoulder (circled in yellow below).

Pic 2013-07-31 at 5.52.25 PM

After the race, riders complained to MX Sports, the event organizer. Race personnel went through the crowd and soon found a retired pro racer with a green laser pointer in his hand.

Jeff Alessi initially denied the laser attack and tried to blame his girlfriend. A race official confiscated the laser and Alessi’s credentials which turned out to belong to his father. Later, an argument ensued which was captured on video, between Alessi and his father, and a journalist.

On July 22, MX Sports suspended Jeff Alessi’s eligibility and fined him $500. His father was suspended for the rest of the outdoor season. Alessi’s brother Mike, who competed in the disputed race, was fined $10,000 for the laser incident and $5,000 for transferring his father’s credentials to his brother.

The laser was described by MX Sports as “a powerful green laser pointer torch, capable of reaching considerable distance.”

Click to read more...

Australia: AUS $400 fine for possessing laser pointer in public

A 24-year-old Orange, NSW man was fined AUS $400 on May 16 2013, for possessing a laser pointer in a public place.

On March 9 2013, Patrick Toohey was in a vehicle that was stopped for a random breath test. Police said they smelled cannabis and that Toohey and his four friends had bloodshot eyes, and thus searched the vehicle. The laser pointer was found in a bag. Toohey’s lawyer later said in court that Toohey had put the pointer in the bag “some time ago and had completely forgotten about it.” No cannabis was found, and the driver passed the breath test.

Toohey pleaded guilty to the laser pointer possession charge. During the sentencing phase on May 16, Toohey’s lawyer said his client was employed full-time and had been in a steady relationship for two years. He asked for leniency due to Toohey pleading guilty early in the case.

From the Central Western Daily

US: Man buys pointer at Dallas Walmart, immediately aims at officer and is arrested

The Dallas Observer blog relates a story of a man who purchased a red laser pointer at a Dallas area Walmart, and immediately aimed it at a uniformed Dallas police officer. The officer had “temporary blindness” according to the story. The man, identified only as “Mr. Evans” was arrested and given a ticket with a fine of up to $500. The incident occurred at 3:45 am on April 11 2013.

From the Dallas Observer. As of April 12 2013, LaserPointerSafety.com has not been able to find any other source for this story, including news articles and the Dallas Police Department website.

US: UPDATED - St. Louis teen given probation for Aug 2012 lasing of baseball players

A 17-year-old who aimed a laser at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball player and manager in an August 6 2012 incident, pleaded guilty on December 14 to disturbing the peace at an athletic event. As part of a plea agreement announced January 4 2013, Eric Bogard was sentenced to six months probation, 20 hours of community service, and paying $500 restitution to the Cardinals. If he remains on good behavior, his arrest record will be expunged; otherwise he would have a permanent record and could be jailed.

The plea agreement dropped a second charge of using a laser beam to harass or annoy another person. He could have been fined up to $500 and been jailed for between 30 and 90 days (sources differ as to the maximum sentence for this offense).

Bogard’s lawyer said his client made “an extreme error in judgement”. He also said that Bogard was not the person “who actually did most of the harassing [and] disturbing the peace.”

A St. Louis official said the plea agreement had been cleared with the baseball Cardinals.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Additional information is at LaserPointerSafety.com’s original story. It includes an August 17 update about the resignation of the person who controlled the stadium suite where the laser pointer misuse originated.

US: Maine man sentenced to 10 days for pointing laser gunsight at police

A 28-year-old man received a 10-day jail sentence on February 8 2012, for aiming a laser gunsight at a police officer. Moses Rollins pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and criminal use of a laser. The reckless conduct charge was deferred; if he complies with a one-year agreement, he will not be convicted. Rollins’ 10-day jail sentence for criminal use of a laser begins March 9.

On May 10 2011, police were called to a barn in New Sharon. They found two intoxicated men were firing shots for about an hour. One man came out and was arrested. The gunshots continued. At one point, a laser pointer was aimed at police and at a cruiser. After Rollins exited the barn and was arrested, police found a 30-30 rifle with an attached laser scope.

From the Sun Journal

US: Drunk arrested on Christmas Eve for lasing police car

On Christmas Eve 2011, an apparently intoxicated man repeatedly aimed a green laser pointer at a police officer sitting in his parked patrol car at the Southington (Connecticut) fire department headquarters. The officer initially thought the green light was from a traffic signal changing. He then saw a green dot on the windshield and realized it was from a laser pointer across the street. Backup was called in, and 35-year-old Kevin R. King was identified as the perpetrator.

King said he was “kidding around” while demonstrating the laser to friends. He was given a $75 ticket for shining a laser pointer to harass or alarm. A court date of January 13 was set for Bristol Superior Court.

From MyRecordJournal.com and Southington Patch

US: 90 days for Washington state man who used a blue 1 watt laser on an officer

Daniel P. McBride, 32, of Cosmopolis, Washington, was sentenced on October 24 2011 to 90 days in jail for second-degree unlawful discharge of a blue 1-watt Wicked Lasers Spyder III Arctic laser. The incident happened in January 2011 during a traffic stop in Montesano. McBride had also been charged with assaulting an officer; that charge was dropped in a plea bargain agreement.

As part of the sentence, the judge ordered that McBride continue mental therapy even after he completes his sentence.

Original story from KXRO Newsradio. Remainder of story pieced together from searching “laser” at the Daily World paid website.
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US: $5,000 and 30 months probation for aiming at barges, planes, copter

44-year-old Todd Manz pleaded guilty on May 20 2011 to lying to FBI agents about a drunken night of aiming 50 milliwatt handheld lasers at river barges, airplanes and a police helicopter. He was fined $5,000 and received 30 months probation. He could have received up to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Manz and two others, David Erminger, 28, and Matthew Mauck, 34, were arrested July 20 2010 in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. From news reports, it appears the most serious incident involved river barges. U.S. District Court Judge Jon McCalla told Manz “You’re pointing a laser at a tugboat with 40 barges and chemicals on it and you could sink the tow. You could kill people, take out the bridge... [The tugboat captains] thought they were being targeted by someone with a high-powered rifle.”

Erminger and Mauck have not yet been sentenced on charges of crimes of violence against maritime navigation and sabotage of aircraft. Government prosecutors will be recommending diversion, a more mild form of probation.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal

UPDATE: On June 22 2011, Erminger and Mauck were placed on one-year diversion. The criminal charges against them will be erased as long as they stay out of trouble (no new charges) during the next year. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Canada: Conviction in assault over laser pointer annoyance

On April 13, 2007, three moviegoers were “beaten and stabbed after they asked a group of males to stop disrupting a film with a laser pointer.” On Feb. 5 2011, one of the males was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm, and common assault. This follows a March 2010 guilty finding for another attacker.

A previous News item described the attack in more detail.

From the
Ottawa Citizen

US: 3 years in prison for injuring deputy

An Oregon man, Anton Strom, 24, was sentenced to three years in prison for causing permanent retinal scarring of a sheriff’s deputy’s left eye on July 17 2010. Strom aimed a “powerful, industrial grade” green laser pointer 423 feet across a parking lot at Deputy Glenn Howard, who now has a stronger corrective lens prescription in his left eye, and “his doctor said his vision may deteriorate further.”

Strom was charged with two counts of second-degree assault and one count of unlawful use of a weapon. He pled guilty to one second-degree assault count, as part of a plea bargain reducing his sentence from the minimum six years, to three years.

Howard testified that during the incident he feared for his life since lasers are often used on weapons. He “pulled his duty weapon and prepared to return fire.”

From OregonLive.com. Thanks to Daniel Hewett of the FDA for bringing this to our attention.

Italy: €15000 fine for laser in goalkeeper's eyes

Serie A football club Napoli have been fined 15,000 (about $22,000 USD) after their supporters shone a laser into the eyes of AC Milan goalkeeper Dida during a game on 28 October 2009.

From
FourFourTwo.com

New Zealand: 60-year-old convicted of shining laser beams at ferries

A 60-year-old New Zealand man was found guilty of four counts of being a criminal nuisance by endangering the public. Bernard Westbrook Long aimed laser beams at Interisland ferries in the Tory Channel of Cook Strait on September 22 and October 12 2007. He was sentenced to 300 hours of community service.

bernard westbrook long laser
300 hours of community service for shining lasers on ferries


The judge said that while Long could have caused “significant” harm, he no longer lived in a house overlooking the channel, so “the chance of reoffending was unlikely.”

From the Marlborough Express. There are additional stories about Long’s guilty plea from the New Zealand Herald; about prosecutors being upset due to Long being given bail despite having “an arsenal” of 30 guns, also from the New Zealand Herald; and about the trial where the defense said persons other than Long were using the laser, from the Marlborough Express.

US: Arrest, jail for pointing laser at deputy

A 19-year-old was arrested and jailed for shining a laser pointer at a sheriff’s deputy.

On January 1 2009, a Hornbrook, California homeowner called the sheriff’s office about a man on the homeowner’s porch. “When deputies arrived and began to question Jonathan Lee Huellett, he allegedly pulled out a laser pointer and began shining it in the deputy’s face and on his chest. Huellett was arrested on suspicion of using the laser pointer on the deputy.” He spent the night in jail. He was released, but on January 3 was arrested again for resisting and obstructing a peace officer. [It is unclear from the story if this resulted from a separate incident, or was a charge from the original laser pointer incident.]

Four days later, when the news story was published, he remained in jail.

From the Redding (CA) Record Searchlight online, at www.redding.com

UK: Up to 5 years in jail; bus and tennis incidents cited

The UK Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has warned that people found guilty of using laser pens to cause injury, can expect up to five years in prison. His statement comes after three Hampshire police officers were seriously injured when a beam temporarily blinded them.

They join many others who have fallen victim to a device that experts say is too dangerous to be used by the untrained.

At the Paris Indoor Tennis Open two weeks ago, the Australian Patrick Rafter became a victim. A laser beam shone by a spectator was directed at the player's face. The game had to be halted while he recovered. Other sportsmen and pop stars have been targeted too.

In South Yorkshire one bus company has recorded 32 separate incidents in the past month. Drivers say they have been picked out by people intent on causing an accident.Click to read more...

Australia: Lasers banned at football game; jail possible

Football [soccer] fans caught shining laser lights into players' faces during matches will be booted out of grounds.

The league has vowed to work with police and venues to crack down on the problem following at least two incidents in Friday night's Richmond-Collingwood clash.

"The AFL will work with police and our venues to ban anyone caught using laser lights to distract players during the course of a match," said league operations manager Adrian Anderson.

"It's unacceptable for players in a contact sport having something shine in their eyes while playing the game.

A sharp jump in the number of lasers aimed into aircraft cockpits has sparked new laws to allow offenders to be jailed.
The draft laws will be put before the Senate today. The legislation comes as Transport Minister Mark Vaile reported there had been 170 laser incidents in 2007 and the dangerous practice was happening more often.
Click to read more...

UK: Youths sentenced for train attack

20-year-old Philip Pearse was sentenced to six months in a young offenders' institute, and an unnamed 16-year-old was made to serve 140 hours of community punishment, after shining red lasers at trains as they pulled into Newport station in South Wales. They were convicted on two charges of endangering the safety of railway passengers.

Drivers Michael Jonah and Timothy Reiffer suffered temporary blindness, but managed to bring their trains safely to a halt.

Cardiff Crown Court was told that the safety of hundreds of commuters was jeopardised and the cost of the disruption was put at £13,000.Click to read more...