FRESNO (CBS13) – A California man has been was sentenced to 14 years in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Fresno Police Department helicopter.
Investigators say Sergio Rodriguez, 26, of Clovis, repeatedly shined a high-powered laser pointer in the cockpit of the aircraft in 2012. He and his girlfriend, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 23, were arrested after a police helicopter investigated reports that someone shining a green laser at an emergency transport helicopter near Fresno International Airport.
Rodriguez Coleman, were convicted by a federal jury after a three–day trial in Fresno in December 2013.
The laser pointer Rodriguez and Coleman used was 13 times more powerful than the permissible power emission level for hand-held laser devices, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Deliberately pointing a laser at an aircraft is a criminal act with serious safety repercussions,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We applaud law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their efforts to combat this serious problem.”
Sentencing for Coleman is set for May 12, 2014. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Rodriguez’s sentence is believed to be the longest sentence in U.S. history for a laser-strike case.