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Sentences for persons convicted of laser offenses


This is a partial list, based on public news stories. You may find additional cases by searching our News pages for aviation incident fines & jail, and non-aviation incident fines & jail. And if you have additional cases not listed here, please contact us.

Note that on this page, we only list incidents resulting in convictions. Our News pages can be searched for aviation incident arrests, and non-aviation incident arrests which may or may not have resulted in a conviction.

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.

Scotland: 240 hours of community service for ADHD man who lased police helicopter, 8 weeks before copter crashed into pub

Grant Jones, 24
Edinburgh, Scotland

Grant Jones laser

Jones was sentenced to 240 hours of community service on June 2 2014, for aiming a green laser beam at a Police Scotland helicopter.

The incident occurred on October 1 2013. The helicopter pilot turned the craft away from the beam, to avoid the light. Other crew used infrared cameras to track the perpetrator and direct ground officers to his location. The officers found a laser pen in the possession of Grant Jones, 24, and arrested him.

Jones avoided jail time “because his actions were linked to his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, according to an Edinburgh Evening Times news story.

The same helicopter crashed into a pub in Glasgow on November 29 2013, killing all three on board plus seven persons on the ground. There is no linkage between Jones’ laser illumination and the crash 60 days later, which was caused by both engines flaming out.

New Zealand: Alcohol treatment, community service & probation for man who lased police helicopter

Kristian Larsen, 44
Auckland, New Zealand


On May 30 2014, Larsen was sentenced to alcohol treatment, 100 hours of community service, and 12 months probation after being convicted of endangering transport. On December 1 2013, the pilot of the Eagle police helicopter was momentarily blinded and, a day later, had a headache after being exposed to blue light from Larsen’s laser. At sentencing, the judge called Larsen’s actions a “drunken escapade.” Larsen said he regretted his actions: “We all make mistakes, and this was mine to make.”

US: Two years for 24-year-old woman

Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 24
Clovis, California, US


In the summer of 2012, Coleman and her then-boyfriend, Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, 26, were arrested for repeatedly aiming a green laser at a Fresno Police Department helicopter. It had been called out to investigate an earlier illumination of a children’s hospital medical helicopter. On May 12 2014, Coleman was sentenced to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for aiming a laser pointer at a law enforcement aircraft. Rodriguez had earlier been sentenced to 14 years in prison: eight for the laser incident and an additional six due to his prior criminal record.

UK: Five months, suspended, for aiming at police helicopter

Gavin Hoskins, 26
Bristol, UK


On March 19 2014, Hoskins was sentenced to five months in jail, suspended for two years, plus he must do 200 hours of community service within 12 months. On January 20 2014, Hoskins aimed a laser pen at a National Police Air Service helicopter, to see if the beam could reach the aircraft. He said the lasing was “stupid” and was not done deliberately.

US: 14 years for California man, due in part to past criminal record

Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, 26
Clovis, California, US

Sergio Patrick Rodriguez laser
In the summer of 2012, Rodriguez and his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 23, were arrested for repeatedly aiming a green laser at a Fresno Police Department helicopter. It had been called out to investigate an earlier illumination of a children’s hospital medical helicopter. On December 20 2013, Rodriguez was found guilty of interfering with an aircraft (penalty up to 20 years in prison) and of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft (penalty up to 5 years in prison). Coleman was also found guilty of aiming a laser pointer. On March 10 2014, Rodriguez was sentenced to 14 years in prison. On May 12 2014, Coleman was sentenced to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

This is by far the longest sentence anywhere in the world for a laser/aircraft incident (see here for sentences of 37-48 months and here for sentences over 4 years). Rodriguez’s extensive past criminal record was a key factor helping to increase the length of the sentence; the judge called him a “walking crime spree.”

UK: £300 fine, plus £115 for Nottingham area man who lased police helicopter

Craig Mather, 22
Carlton, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, UK


On February 18 2014, Mather was fined £300 after admitting to directing or shining a light at a police helicopter, so as to dazzle or distract the pilot. The charge stemmed from a January 26 2014 incident where Mather aimed at the aircraft because “the helicopter annoyed him, as it was always above his house, and wanted it to go away. He said he didn't know how far the laser went.” In addition to the £300 fine, Mather was also ordered to pay £85 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

US: Two years probation for Tucson man who lased sheriff's plane

Jack Downey, 24
Tucson, Arizona, US


On February 12 2014, Downey was sentenced to two years suspended probation in federal court, for aiming a laser pointer at a Pima County Sheriff’s department airplane on March 5 2013. Downey and another man were also suspected of lasing a commercial airplane prior to the sheriff’s plane.

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: 21 months for Calif. man "who can't help himself from doing stupid things"

Charles Conrad Mahaffey, 23
Clovis, California, US


On January 27 2014, Mahaffey was sentenced to 21 months in prison for aiming a “powerful red laser” at a Fresno County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. The pilot was distracted by the light and broke off the mission. In November 2013 Mahaffey pleaded guilty, saying he knew it was a crime to point a laser at an aircraft but said he “just can’t help himself from doing stupid things.”

Wales: Suspended 5-month sentence, 200 hours community service, £165 fine for lasing helicopter 10 times

Kevin Mark Griffiths, 22
Greenfield, Flintshire, Wales, UK

On September 25 2013, Griffiths repeatedly aimed a green laser at a North Wales Police helicopter that was trying to locate a missing person. He hit the aircraft about 10 times over an eight-minute period. At trial Griffiths admitted a charge of recklessly endangering an aircraft or persons inside. On January 9, 2014 he was given a five-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work, and was fined £165 in costs.

US: 45 days in jail, 18 months probation for aiming at police helicopter

Michael Rademacher, 27
Columbus, Ohio, US

On March 21 2013, Rademacher aimed a blue laser at a Columbus police helicopter “because he was bored.” One pilot said it was the brightest laser he had ever seen. The pilots were able to locate the source, and directed ground units to Rademacher’s home. He pleaded guilty in September 2013 to one felony count of possession of criminal tools; a more-serious charge of interfering with the operation of an aircraft with a laser was dismissed as part of the plea agreement. On November 7 2013, Rademacher was sentenced to 45 days in the Franklin County jail and 18 months of probation. If he violates probation, he will be imprisoned for 12 months.

US: Texas man gets 18 months in prison for aiming at Homeland Security helicopter

Magarito Tristan III, 28
Donna, Texas, US


Margarito Tristan laser
On September 25 2013, Magarito Tristan III was sentenced to 18 months in prison, plus an additional two years of supervised release following his term, for aiming a laser pointer at a Customs and Border Patrol helicopter. The 28-year-old from Donna, Texas, had previously pleaded guilty in July 2013 to one felony count of aiming a laser at an aircraft. He has been in custody since the March 7 2013 incident. The pilot wrote to the court that he felt he was under attack and that bullets would be fired at the aircraft.

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.

UK: £250 fine for aiming at helicopter with police on board

Gavin Brace, 25
Ryhope, Tyne and Wear, UK

On September 5 2013, Brace was fined £250 (USD $390) for directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot.. On August 17 2013, Brace aimed at a helicopter being flown by a commercial pilot with two Northumbria Police officers on board. He later told police that he wanted to see how far the laser pen could reach, and that he did not realize the effect it would have on the pilot. During sentencing, the judge told Brace "I regret that the offense you are charged with can only be punished with a fine, many people will feel that is inadequate."

Australia: $10,000 fine after Woodvale man aims laser at police helicopter

Christopher Manning, 40
Woodvale, Western Australia, Australia

On September 4 2013, Manning was fined AUS $10,000 (USD $9,140) for causing fear with a laser or light. On August 3 2013, a police helicopter was conducting a search in the Perth suburb of Woodvale when it was hit a number of times by a bright green laser light. The pilot had “immediate distress” and took evasive action. Ground officers arrested Manning at his home in Woodvale. He was later found guilty in Joondalup magistrates court.

UK: £305 in fines for lasing police helicopter

Victoria Rayner and Robert Gilbert
Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, UK


Victoria Rayner Robert Gilbert laser
Rayner and GIlbert were each fined £100 (USD $155), plus they had to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £20. They pleaded guilty August 27 2013 to shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot. On May 8 2013, the couple were in bed, aiming a laser pen at a nearby dog, when they then aimed it at a police helicopter searching for a missing 11-year-old boy. The pilot traced the beam back to a house in Hebburn where they were found in a back bedroom. They initially denied having a laser but then officers found it under the mattress. At trial, magistrates were told it was not an imprisonable offense, so the pair could only be fined or discharged. The Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner said “This was extremely reckless behavior, which could have had horrific consequences…. This relatively small fine does mean offenders appear to have been let off somewhat lightly…”

US: 30 months in federal prison for lasing police helicopter

Kenneth Santodomingo, 22
Dallas, Texas, US

Kenneth Santodomingo laser
On July 25 2013, Santodomingo was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, for the January 28 2013 lasing of a helicopter. A green laser beam was aimed at Dallas Police Department’s Air One at least four times over 10 minutes. The beam led back to Santodomingo’s house, where ground officers arrested him. The 22-year-old admitted to aiming at the helicopter, saying he wanted to see how far it would go. He pleaded guilty on February 28 2013.

US: 2 years jail, 3 years probation for lasing helicopter; earlier fine of $9,000

Michael A. Smith
Omaha, Nebraska, US

On July 22 2013, Smith was sentenced to two years in federal prison to be followed by a 3-year term of supervised release. He had been convicted April 24 2013 of aiming a laser at an Omaha police helicopter “six or seven times” on July 11 2012. The police were looking for the source of an earlier red laser aimed at a Southwest Airlines flight that was landing in Omaha. According to one news report, Smith had previously been fined $9,000 by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Australia: AUS $400 fine for possession

Patrick Toohey, 24
Orange, New South Wales, Australia

On May 16 2013, Toohey was fined AUS $400 for possession of a laser pointer in a public place. The pointer had been found in a vehicle during a traffic stop.

US: 2 years probation, 2 months home confinement, 40 hours community service

Michael Brandon Smith, 35
St. Louis area, Missouri, US

On April 11 2013, Smith was sentenced to two years of probation, two months of home confinement and 40 hours of community service for the May 18 2012 lasing of a police helicopter.

UK: 6 months suspended, 150 hours unpaid work

Jack Waistle, 21
Middlesbrough, UK

Pic 2013-04-11 at 12.47.37 AM
On April 10 2013, Waistle was given a six-month suspended sentence and 150 hours of unpaid work, for aiming a laser pen at a Cleveland Police helicopter. Leaving the courtroom, Waistle put two fingers up (photo above) which the Daily Star wrote was “defiant”.

US: 3 months jail, 7 months home supervision, 3 years probation

Daniel Dangler, 30
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

On April 10 2013, Dangler was
sentenced to three months in jail plus seven months home confinement and three years supervised release, for aiming a green laser at a news media helicopter on July 18 2012. He pleaded guilty on October 17 2012. Dangler still faces FAA civil charges that could result in a penalty up to $11,000.

US: 30 months in jail for lasing airplane, helicopter

Adam Gardenhire, 19
North Hollywood, California, US

Adam Gardenhire laser

On March 25 2013, Gardenhire was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for aiming a “commercial grade” green laser pointer at an aircraft and a police helicopter on March 29 2012. He could have received five years in prison. The crime has a maximum prison term of up to five years. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended an 18-24 month penalty, but U.S. DIstrict Judge Stephen Wilson said he wanted to send a message that Gardenhire’s behavior was “reckless and very dangerous.”

As of March 25 2013, Gardenhire remains free on bond pending an appeal hearing in April 2013.

US: 1 year in jail and 2 years probation, partner gets 60 days community service and three years probation

Floyd Atkins, 22, and Alvarado Jimenez, 20
Los Angeles, California, US

On July 4 2011, Atkins and Jiminez were arrested on multiple charges for lasing a LAPD helicopter. They also were suspected of previous incidents of aiming at airlines landing at Los Angeles International Airport. On November 1 2012, Atkins was sentenced to one year in county jail, two years probation, and $200 in fines and fees. Jiminez was sentenced in September 2012 to 60 days of Caltrans service and three years probation.

Australia: AUS $20,000 fine for couple; possible loss of visa

Patricia Giguere, 29, and Clemens Trauttmansdorff, 31
Port Kennedy, Perth, Western Australia

Patricia Giguere laser

On October 25 2012, Giguere and Trauttmansdorff were each fined AUS $10,000 for lasing a police helicopter on July 20 2012. In addition, the conviction jeopardizes the ability of Giguere, a Canadian citizen, to stay in Australia on a partner provisional visa. Guigere (pictured above demonstrating how she aimed the laser) said in an interview that the fine would adversely affect her plans to start a business and buy land for a home.

UK: 200 hours community service and £85 in court costs

Neil Shackleton, 27
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Neil Shackleton laser

In August 2012, Shackleton was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community service, and was ordered to pay £85 in court costs, for shining a laser at South Yorkshire’s police helicopter. Neil Shackleton aimed the laser from his bedroom window to the helicopter as it flew two miles away. On-board cameras helped determine the laser’s location, and ground units arrested Shackleton.

US: 90 days in jail, 3 years probation for shining lasers at three aircraft

Michael Andrew Cerise, 47
Phoenix, Arizona, US

Michael Cerise laser

On November 9 2011, Cerise aimed a green laser at two commercial aircraft. One was forced to veer off of a final approach, to avoid the laser light. A police helicopter sent to investigate was also lased. Ground units found a laser hidden in Cerise's couch cushions. Cerise eventually admitted aiming at the aircraft to see how far it could go. Authorities said three pilots were temporarily blinded during the incidents.

On August 8 2012, Cerise was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years supervised probation.

UK: 6 months in jail for six-minute lasing of helicopter

Alexander Nicholls, 23
Weston-super-Mare, Avon, UK

Alexander Nicholls laser

On May 12 2012, Nicholls aimed a blue laser pen at a police helicopter for about six minutes. On July 16 2012, he pleaded guilty to one count of recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or people in an aircraft. He was sentenced to six months in jail.

Canada: House arrest, curfew, probation, cannot possess a laser pointer

Jason John McConnell, 35
Calgary, Alberta
On August 16 2010, McConnell aimed a laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter. The crew broke off their mission to deal with the laser. They located McConnell and ground crews arrested him. On June 18 2012, McConnell was sentenced to two months of house arrest, four months with a 10 pm to 5 am curfew, six months of probation, 25 hours of community service, and counseling. In addition, he is not permitted to possess a laser pointer.

US: 5 years probation and a $5,000 fine

Christopher Bryan Willingham, 28
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Pic 2012-05-22 at 2.17.57 PM

On November 1 2011, Willingham aimed a green laser multiple times at a Virginia Beach police helicopter. During the 20-minute long incident, one of the pilots had black spots in one eye and could not see his instruments. On May 18 2012, Willingham was sentenced in federal court to five years probation and a $5,000 fine.

Scotland: 9 months in jail

Christopher Paton, 22
Glasgow, Scotland
On September 12 2009, Paton repeatedly aimed his green laser at a police helicopter that was searching for two lost 4-year-olds. The crew filmed the location of the laser, enabling ground officers to easily find and arrest Paton. In April 2012, he was sentenced to nine months in jail for endangering the crew.

US: 10 days in jail plus 3 years probation

Clark James Gable III, 22 at time of arrest
Hollywood, California US

Pic 2013-03-26 at 9.07.10 PM

On July 28 2011, Gable was arrested for aiming a green laser at a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter. On December 8 2011, he pleaded guilty to one felony count of "discharge of a laser at an occupied aircraft". In exchange for the guilty plea, other charges were dropped that could have put Gable in jail for three years.

At sentencing on January 12 2012, he received 10 days in jail plus three years probation. He had been expected to receive 200 hours of community work service, but that provision appears to have been dropped since the December 8 guilty plea.

The case received widespread publicity because Gable is the grandson of actor Clark Gable, famed as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind and for appearing in 66 other movies.

US: Time served (7 months in jail) plus 1 year probation

Jeffrey Lee Gentry, 33
Bakersfield, California US
On November 6 2010, Gentry was arrested for aiming a laser four times at a Kern County Sheriff's Office helicopter. The pilot suffered temporary spots in his eyes, and was disoriented enough that the aircraft went off course. On January 9 2012, Gentry was sentenced to time served (he had been in jail seven months) and one year of probation.

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.

US: 3 years in prison

Anton Strom, 24
King City, Washington County, Oregon, US
On July 17 2010, Strom aimed a "powerful, industrial grade" green laser at a sheriff's deputy. The deputy thought the laser could be on a weapon; he pulled his gun and prepared to fire on Strom. The deputy has degraded vision and permanent retinal scarring in his left eye.

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. He was sentenced in December 2010.

US: 15 months in prison, 3 years probation

Nathan Ramon Wells, 19
Cathedral City (near Palm Springs), California, US



On June 3 2009, Wells aimed a green laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter. In July 2010, he pleaded guilty to the felony of willfully interfering with an operator of an aircraft. Wells was sentenced October 25 2010. The assistant U.S. attorney said "This was a very serious crime that deserved prison time."

US: 1 year in prison, 3 years probation

Robert Duane Nighswander, 44
Orland, California, US

On October 21 2009, Nighswander aimed a green laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter at least four times. He was sentenced September 28 2010 for using a laser to interfere with an aircraft.

UK: 4 months in prison

Radu Moldovan, 28
Romanian migrant, working in UK

radu-moldovan

On August 16 2010, Moldovan illuminated an RAF Tornado jet for up to ten seconds. He pleaded guilty to culpably and recklessly endangering a military aircraft on September 16 2010.

UK: £800 fine for two men

Darryl Hodgkinson, 20 and Shane Ramsay, 22
Cambridge, UK

On September 1 2010, Hodgkinson and Ramsay were arrested for aiming a laser pen at a police helicopter. They were found guilty of directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle or distract the pilot on September 14 2010. They were fined $400 each.

US: 2 years in prison, $500 in court costs

Clint Jason Brenner, 36
Prescott, Arizona, US

Pasted Graphic

On December 9 2009, Brenner illuminated an Arizona police helicopter with a green laser pointer. He was found guilty of two counts of endangerment in April 2010. Brenner was sentenced on May 24 2010 to two years on each count, with the terms to run concurrently. He was also ordered to pay $500 in court costs.

US: 4 years in prison

Jamie Allen Downie, 35
Rocklin, California, US



In July 2009, Downie aimed a laser at a sheriff's helicopter. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of discharging a laser at an aircraft. Downie was sentenced January 22 2010.

US: 30 months in prison

Dana Christian Welch, 37
Orange, California, US



On May 21 2008, Welch aimed a laser at two commercial jets landing at John Wayne Airport. He was found guilty in April 2009 of interfering with pilots. Welch was sentenced November 2 2009.

US: 37 months in prison, 3 years probation

Baltazar O. Valladares, 30
Roseville, California, US



On March 16 2009, Valladares aimed a green laser at a sheriff's helicopter searching for the person who earlier illuminated a commercial airplane. Valladares pleaded guilty in June 2009 to interfering with the safe operation of the helicopter, but denied illuminating the airplane. He was sentenced to 37 months in prison, plus three years of probation, in October 2009.

Italy: €15,000 fine

"Napoli" Serie A football club
Naples, Italy

On October 28 2009, supporters of the soccer team Napoli aimed a laser into the eyes of AC Milan's goalkeeper Dida. Napoli was fined €15,000 (about USD $22,000).

New Zealand: 300 hours of community service

Bernard Westbrook Long, 60
Te Iro Bay, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

bernard westbrook long laser

Long was arrested October 13 2007, for aiming a laser at Interisland ferries on September 22 and October 12. He pleaded guilty in June 2008, and was sentenced in May 2009 to 300 hours of community service.

US: 2 years probation

David Banach, 38
Parsippany, New Jersey, US

david-banach-laser

On December 31 2004, Banach aimed a laser pointer at a police helicopter searching for the source of a laser that illuminated a charter jet two nights earlier. Banach was charged with terrorism under the Patriot Act in a high-profile case attracting media attention worldwide. He faced 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Under a plea bargain, Banach pleaded guilty to shining a laser beam at an airplane (another source says the charge was interfering with the operator of a mass transit vehicle). Charges of lying to the FBI were dropped. On February 15 2008 he was sentenced to two years probation with no fines or other penalties. His lawyer also says the judge restored Banach’s reputation. The New York Times reported that Banach had received threatening letters and had lost two jobs.

UK: 6 months in young offenders institute, 140 hours of community service

Phillip Pearse, 20 and an unnamed male, 16
Newport, South Wales, UK
In 2003, Pearse and a teen pointed laser beams at trains pulling into a station in south Wales. Two drivers had temporary blindness; one was treated for temporary injury to his tear duct. The cost of the disruptions was estimated at £13,000. Pearse and the teen pleaded guilty to two charges of endangering the safety of railway passengers. Pearse was sentenced on June 20 2003 to six months in a young offender's institute. The teen was given 140 hours community punishment.