A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Two years in prison for Calif. man who aimed "powerful green laser" at helicopter

Barry Lee Bowser, 52
Bakersfield, California, US

On September 28 2015, Bowser was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison plus three years of supervised release and a $10,000 “special assessment fee”, for aiming a “powerful green laser” at a Kern County Sheriff’s Office helicopter.

From an FBI press release: “In June [2015], a federal jury found Bowser guilty of aiming the beam of a laser at Air-1, a Kern County Sheriff’s helicopter that was providing support to ground units responding to a man armed with a gun. At trial, the evidence established that the mission was diverted when the pilot of Air-1 was struck by direct hits from a powerful green laser that illuminated the cockpit and tracked the aircraft near the approach path to Meadows Field Airport. The laser strikes caused the pilot to experience flash blindness, eye discomfort, and pain that lasted several hours. In imposing sentence, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill found that Bowser had obstructed justice before trial by concealing the laser and providing false statements to law enforcement and at trial through his false testimony about the offense.”

On September 23 2016 Bowser published a public apology, which said that the incident had ruined his life: “I also want to educate anyone who owns a laser and might be inclined to use it the way I did: Learn from my mistake. I am now just getting out of prison. I have paid dearly, for I have lost my girlfriend, my dog, my home, my vehicle. Everything I owned, everything I have worked for 30 years of my life, is gone. For shining a laser at a helicopter for three seconds, I lost my entire life. I am now 54 years old and I have no one and nothing but the clothes I was given when I was released from prison.”

Original LaserPointerSafety.com story here; story with complete apology letter here.

US: Ohio man gets one month in prison, two years probation for lying about laser incident

Ronald E. Deal, Sr, 57
McComb, Ohio, US


Deal was sentenced on August 25 2014 to one month in prison followed by two years of probation. He had pleaded guilty to making a false statement or representation to a department or agency of the United States.

Between August 5 and 9 2012, he told investigators he did not know about a June 17 2012 incident where a laser pointer was aimed at an aircraft, and that he later falsely took the blame for the incident.

Australia: $2500 fine, $147 court costs, lasers destroyed for 51-year-old man

Peter Allan McArthur, 51
Parmelia, Perth, Western Australia


McArthur was sentenced on July 8 2014 to AUS $2500 in fines (USD $2350), $147 in court costs, and had two lasers destroyed. He had earlier pleaded guilty to aiming a green laser multiple times at a police helicopter. Prosecutors wanted a jail sentence, but the judge took into account McArthur’s guilty plea and his minimal record.

UK: Police officer gets two years community service, £3,500 in costs

James McIvor, 53
Luton, Bedfordshire, UK

James McIvor PCSO laser
On May 20 2013, McIvor, a Police Community Service Officer (PCSO) with British Transport Police, aimed a green laser pen at a police helicopter. This dazzled the crew and forced the pilot to take evasive action. McIvor later told officers he had been trying to attract his elderly cat who was on top of his garage. He was convicted in December 2013 of acting in a negligent manner to endanger the safety of an aircraft. He was acquitted of a more serious charge of recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft. On February 4 2014, McIvor was sentenced in Luton Crown Court to two years community service and was ordered to pay £3,500 in costs.

US: Jail, probation, community service for "bored" Kentucky man who aimed gunsight at police helicopter

Steven French, 50
Lexington, Kentucky, US


Steven French laser
On September 4 2013, French pleaded guilty in state court to second-degree wanton endangerment. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail; 30 days will be served while the remaining 11 months will be probated for two years. He is also required to complete 100 hours of community service, and to forfeit his gun and laser. On August 24 2013, while working as a security guard, French aimed a green laser attached to his 9mm pistol at a police helicopter. He had told police he did this because he was bored and pointed the laser on his gun at the helicopter to test its range.

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.

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: 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.