A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

UK: 4 months in jail

David Checkley, 21
Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside UK
On October 22 2011, Checkley lased a St Helens police air support helicopter. He pleaded guilty to “acting recklessly or negligently in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft”. On November 23 2011, Checkley was sentenced to four months in jail, and his laser pen was destroyed by police.

UK: 6 months in jail

Wayne Junior French, 19
Birmingham, UK
On September 11 2011, French illuminated a commercial flight. A West Midlands Air Support helicopter was sent to investigate and was also lased by French. He pleaded guilty to lasing the police helicopter and on October 20 2011 was sentenced to six months in jail. French's lawyer said he had learning difficulties and was "immature."

UK: 6 months in youth offender institution

Ross McDonnell-Jones, 21
Newport, Wales, UK

On October 12 2010, McDonnell-Jones used a laser pen to illuminate a police helicopter for about five minutes. The man had purchased the green laser the day before. He admitted aiming the laser outdoors but said he did not see the aircraft. He was sentenced in September 2011.

US: 5 days in jail, 3 years probation, 180 hours community service

Kimberly Rogers, 27
Compton, California, US


Pic 2011-09-26 at 2.01.54 PM
On September 23 2011, Rogers was arrested for illuminating a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter with a green laser. This came as the helicopter was searching for the source of a laser that illuminated a commercial airplane landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

According to a January 2014 article in Smithsonian Air & Space magazine, Rogers “pleaded no contest and was sentenced to five days in jail, three years probation, and 180 hours of community service.” The dates of the plea and the sentence are not known.

US: 6 months home confinement, 5 years probation, 500 hours community service

Joseph Aquino, 32
Warwick, Rhode Island, US

On September 15 2010, Aquino aimed a green laser at a boat, car, and commercial airliner. Prosecutors asked for two years in prison. He was sentenced September 12 2011. In addition to the above penalties, Aquino must undergo mental health counseling and submit to 72 drug tests each year.

UK: 16 months in prison

Joshua Bough, 28
Small Heath, Birmingham, UK

On March 28 2011, Bough aimed at laser pointer at a police helicopter. He tried to claim he was aiming to help find a lost puppy; the judge said this "did not ring true." Bough pleaded guilty to endangering the safety of an aircraft and was sentenced August 24 2011.

US: 2 months in prison, other penalties, for spotlight (not laser) incident

Wayne Groen, 42
Lynden, Washington, US

On September 22 2010, Groen aimed a spotlight (not a laser) at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter, at a time when local residents had been complaining about border agents' actions. On April 28 2011, a jury found Groen not guilty of interfering with the authorized operation of an aircraft. They found him guilty of incapacitation of an individual during authorized operation of an aircraft.

Groen was sentenced on August 4 2011 to two months in prison, 90 days of home detention, 120 hours of community service, three years of community supervision and a $5,000 fine.

UK: 3 months in prison

David Taylor, 18
Newcastle, UK

On March 12 2011, Taylor aimed a green laser pen multiple times at a Northumbria Police helicopter. The judge said "This sort of behaviour is not a game or prank, it is extremely serious …. they are committing a criminal offence." Taylor was sentenced in July 2011 for recklessly acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft.

US: 1 year probation, $4000 fine

Frank Newton Anderson, 43
Orlando, Florida, US

Frank Newton Anderson

On April 13 2010, Anderson was arrested for aiming a green laser at an Orange County (FL) sheriff's helicopter. He pleaded guilty in December 2010, and was sentenced in July 2011 on a federal charge of interfering with the operation of an aircraft.

His case was especially interesting since it paralleled the case of Jason Dennis McGuire who was arrested March 2010 in Orlando for firing a handgun at an Orange County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. McGuire was sentenced in April 2011 to 12.5 years in prison.

UK: 6 months in prison

Islam Ali, 19
North Kensington (London), UK

On March 6, 2011, Ali lased a police helicopter "to see how far it would go." The judge stated “This was an extremely serious offence which could have ended in several fatalities.” Ali pleaded guilty June 24 to endangering the safety of an aircraft and was sentenced July 28 2011.

UK: 6 months in prison for lasers, plus 6 months for theft

Richard Anthony Oliver, 23
Newcastle, UK



On June 6 2011, Oliver aimed a laser pen at a Northumbria Police helicopter. The judge called Oliver "a dangerous idiot." Oliver was sentenced July 26 2011 for directing a light at an aircraft to distract a pilot.

Canada: CDN $5,000 fine

Chris Saulnier, 39
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

On January 5 2011, Saulnier aimed a green laser pointer at three aircraft. He was tracked by a police helicopter and arrested. Saulnier pleaded guilty on July 26 2011 to an unknown charge.

US: 2 years probation, USD $250 fine, 240 hours community service

Jason G. Heeringa, 29
Brookfield (Chicago area) Illinois, US



On June 16 2010 (and possibly as early as April 30), Heeringa aimed a green laser at a cargo plane. The pilot videotaped the incident and used Google Maps to tell police the location. Heeringa pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to misdemeanor counts of aggravated assault and battery and was sentenced July 12 2011.

Sweden: Suspended sentence with community service

Unnamed man, 21
Sweden

In February 2010, a 21-year-old repeatedly aimed a laser at a police helicopter. He could have received 90 days in jail. Instead, he was convicted of "aviation sabotage" and received a suspended sentence with community service, in June 2011.

Australia: AUS $1000 fine for laser pointing; $300 for drug possession

Morgan Daniel Raine, 35
New Farm (Brisbane), Queensland, Australia



On May 20 2011, Raine aimed a laser pointer at Channel 9's helicopter. He was convicted June 29 2011 of endangering the safe use of a vehicle. Raine said the lasing was stupid and he meant no harm.

US: 30 months probation, $5000 fine

Todd Michael Manz, 43
Fostoria, Ohio, US

On July 20 2010, Manz aimed 50 milliwatt handheld lasers at river barges, airplanes and a police helicopter in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. He pleaded guilty on May 20 2011 to lying to FBI agents. Manz could have received up to 30 months in prison.

Also involved were David Erminger, 28, and Matthew Mauck, 34. They were placed on one-year diversion on June 22 2011. The criminal charges against them will be erased if they stay out of trouble (no new charges) during the next year.

US: 6 months in jail, 100 hours of community service

Kevin Wayne Foster, 39
Shasta Lake, California, US



In December 2010, Foster aimed a laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter. Under a plea bargain, two felony charges were dropped (assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, and discharging a laser). He could have faced four years in prison if convicted on the felonies.

Foster pleaded no contest to misdemeanors of interfering with an aircraft, and pointing a laser at a peace officer. He was sentenced June 20 2011 to time served (about 6 months) and was ordered to 100 hours of community service giving presentations on the dangers of laser pointers.

US: 5 years probation

Mark Clay Hazlitt, 59
Lakeland, Florida, US



On November 21 2010, Hazlitt aimed a green laser pointer at a sheriff's department helicopter because he was "tired of hearing" the helicopter. Hazlitt was sentenced June 2 2011 to five years probation on federal charges of interfering with the operation of a helicopter.

The judge ruled that Hazlitt’s laser pointer was not a “dangerous weapon” under the circumstances of the case. This finding helped reduce the severity of Hazlitt’s sentence; he could have received up to 20 years in prison.

US: 18 months in prison

Lenny Tavarez, 19
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

In October 2008, Tavarez aimed a laser at a Philadelphia police helicopter. The pilot was temporarily blinded, felt a sudden intense pain in his eye, and “lost control”; his co-pilot took over. Tavarez was sentenced May 13 2011.

UK: 6 months in prison

Jonathan Quantrill, 21
North Shields, North Tyneside, UK

On August 22 2010, after drinking two cans of beer, Quantrill repeatedly aimed a laser at a Northumbria Police helicopter. He pleaded guilty to recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft. At his sentencing April 15 2011, the judge said, "Others should know if they behave as you did they are likely to go to prison."

In addition to the 6 month prison term, Quantrill "had a dream of being in the airforce [RAF] but this conviction has already destroyed that.”

UK: 8 months in jail

Jarome Tomlinson, 21
Maidstone, Kent, UK
On June 24 2010, Tomlinson deliberately tracked a Kent and Essex police helicopter. The pilot had to take a hand off the controls in order to shield his eyes. Tomlinson was charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a way likely to endanger an aircraft. At sentencing on April 15 2011, the judge gave Tomlinson an 8-month jail term, as a deterrent to others.

US; 33 months in prison, $10,000 fine

James Gautieri, 53
Williamsport, Pennsylvania, US

On April 30 2008, Gautieri illuminated a police helicopter in Philadelphia. He was sentenced April 13 2011 to 33 months in prison for interference with an aircraft. The judge called Gautieri a "liar" for claiming he was using the laser to follow stars.

US: 1 month in jail, 18 months probation, 1 month in sheriff's work program

Elvin Slater, 24
Chicago, Illinois, US

On March 17 2011, Slater and another person aimed a laser at a commercial aircraft and then at a police helicopter. Slater pleaded guilty on April 1 2011for the misdemeanor of unlawful use of a weapon.

US: 2 days in jail

Timothy Lyman, 25
Columbus, Ohio, US

On October 20 2010, Lyman aimed a laser pointer at a Columbus OH police helicopter. He pleaded guilty on March 15 2011 to a misdemeanor count of interfering with operation of an aircraft. Lyman apologized and said "I didn't understand what I did would have that effect." The judge sentenced Lyman to the two days in jail he had served.

US: 1 year probation, 140 hours of community service, cannot possess a laser pointer

Michael Anthony Fowler, 34
Silver Springs Shores, Marion County, Florida, US

Michael Anthony Fowler

On December 2 2010, Fowler aimed a blue laser pointer at a sheriff's helicopter. He said "I didn't even think the laser pointer could reach that far." Under a plea bargain, on March 10 2011 Fowler admitted a third-degree felony of pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot. He could have received up to five years in prison.

Canada: CDN $500 fine, forfeiture of laser

Alvin Bautista, 38
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

On August 19 2009, Bautista aimed a laser through a tree; it illuminated a police helicopter 2.5 miles away. One count of behavior that endangers an aircraft was dismissed (the maximum penalty was 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine). Bautista was found guilty on June 23 2010 of projecting a bright light source to create a hazard to aviation safety. The judge said the February 18 2011 sentence was for "general deterrence … to make the public aware of the potential consequences of a laser on aircrafts."

US: 3 years in prison

Gerard Sasso, 52
Medford, Massachusetts, US

On December 8 2007, Sasso lased a Massachusetts state police helicopter at least five times. He denied using the laser until police saw a laser pointer on his bedside table. Eleven lasers were seized from his apartment. Sasso was found guilty January 11 2011 of willfully interfering with an aircraft operator with reckless disregard for human life and making false statements.