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Man Points Laser at KTLA Helicopter, Faces 5 Years

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Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 3:28 PM
click to enlarge KTLA NEWS' SKY 5 HELICOPTER VIA MICHAEL DORAUSCH / FLICKR.
  • KTLA News' Sky 5 helicopter via Michael Dorausch / Flickr.

If you aim your laser pointer at an airplane or helicopter, you could go to jail. Last year President Obama signed a bill that makes it a federal crime.

A winner from Colorado, 25-year-old Isaias Gonzalez, is one of the law's first examples. Authorities say he pointed a laser at KTLA and sheriff's helicopters in L.A:

It happened Sept. 6, feds say. He aimed a green laser at the choppers. Not cool. Pilots complain that this could temporarily blind them and cause an accident.

There was speculation that a temporary blinding could have have been a factor in the July 6 crash of an Asiana jetliner at San Francisco airport that ultimately saw the deaths of three teens headed to L.A. for summer camp.

One of the pilots complained that he was temporarily blinded on approach -- he didn't mention a laser specifically -- although the National Transportation Safety Board seemed to discount the report.

See also: Asiana: Laser Blinding Possible as Doomed Plane Approached SFO.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, pleaded guilty this week to "one count of a federal indictment that charged him with pointing the beam of a laser at aircraft in the special maritime jurisdiction of the United States," according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A.

He was busted by sheriff's deputies and the FBI.

It's only the second time the federal laser law has led to a conviction, prosecutors say. The other bust? Also in L.A.

See also: Adam Gardenhire, 18, Pioneers Getting Federally Busted For Pointing Laser at Aircraft.

Gonzales faces five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine when he sees his judge in December, feds say.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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