Tag Archives: Laser

Man Gets 30 Months in Prison for Pointing Laser at Aircraft

A federal judge who said the prison term should serve as a message to other would-be defendants today sentenced a North Hollywood man to 30 months in federal prison for aiming a laser beam at a plane and a police helicopter.

Adam Gardenhire, 19, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.

In imposing the prison sentence, Judge Wilson rejected Gardenhire’s arguments that aiming a laser at an aircraft in flight was not really very dangerous and determined that, by deliberately targeting the aircraft with his laser, Gardenhire had recklessly endangered the safety of the aircraft.

Gardenhire pleaded guilty in October 2012 to one count of aiming the beam of a laser at aircraft. Gardenhire was arrested in April 2012 after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of aiming a laser pointer at a private plane and a helicopter operated by the Pasadena Police Department.

The federal statute used to charge Gardenhire is part of legislation signed into law in 2012 by President Obama making it a federal crime to deliberately aim a laser at an aircraft. The indictment of Gardenhire marked only the second time the new statute had been used in the United States.

According to court documents, Gardenhire deliberately aimed a commercial-grade green laser at multiple aircraft on the evening of March 29, 2012. The laser attack was initially reported by a pilot operating a privately owned Cessna Citation as the pilot was preparing to land at Burbank Airport. The laser struck the pilot in the eye multiple times and caused him to suffer vision impairment that lasted for hours.

Later that evening, Gardenhire aimed his laser at a police helicopter several times. The helicopter was operated by a pilot with the Pasadena Police Department who was responding to the report of the laser attack on the Cessna. The helicopter pilot was wearing protective gear and did not suffer eye damage or vision impairment as a result of the laser.

Air and ground investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, and the Burbank Airport Police Department identified Gardenhire as a suspect later that evening.

The investigation into Gardenhire was conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Burbank Airport Police Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as strong laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. Technology has advanced the effectiveness of laser devices and has increased potential safety hazards for pilots operating aircraft, as well as their passengers and crew. Hazards to pilots include distraction and impaired vision, both of which are particularly dangerous during the critical takeoff and landing phases of flight. In some cases, pilots have reported the need to abort landings or relinquish control of the aircraft to another pilot as a result of laser attacks. California consistently leads the nation in reports of laser attacks on aircraft, with more than 500 of the nearly 3,500 nationwide laser attacks reported in 2012.

Man Pleads Guilty to pointing a Laser at Aircraft Near Bob Hope Airport

A North Hollywood man pleaded guilty Monday to one count of pointing the beam of a laser at an aircraft, announced André Birotte, Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles, and Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Adam Gardenhire, 19, pleaded guilty 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. Gardenhire was arrested in April 2012 after being named in a two-count indictment filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles that alleged he pointed the beam of a laser at a private plane and a police helicopter.

The federal statute used to charge Gardenhire is part of legislation signed into law in 2012 by President Obama that makes it a federal crime to deliberately point a laser at an aircraft. The indictment marked the second time a violation of the new statute had been charged in the United States.

According to the statement of facts outlined in the plea agreement, Gardenhire deliberately aimed a commercial-grade green laser at multiple aircraft on the evening of March 29, 2012. The laser attack was initially reported by a pilot operating a privately owned Cessna Citation as the pilot was preparing to land at Burbank Airport. The laser struck the pilot of the airplane in the eye multiple times and caused him to suffer vision impairment that continued through the following day. Later that evening, the beam of Gardenhire’s laser struck a police helicopter multiple times. The helicopter was operated by a pilot with the Pasadena Police Department who was responding to the report of the laser attack on the Cessna. The helicopter pilot was wearing protective gear and therefore did not suffer eye damage or vision impairment as a result of the laser.

Air and ground investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, and the Burbank Airport Police Department identified Gardenhire as a suspect later that evening.

Gardenhire faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced. Gardenhire is currently scheduled to be sentenced on January 28, 2013.

This investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Burbank Airport Police Department, and the Federal Aviation Administration, and the FBI.

Gardenhire is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. Technology has advanced the effectiveness of laser devices and has increased potential safety hazards for pilots operating aircraft, as well as their passengers and crew. Hazards to pilots include temporary distraction and impaired vision, which is particularly dangerous during the critical takeoff or landing phase of flight. In addition, pilots have reported the need to abort landings or relinquish control of the aircraft to another pilot as a result of laser attacks. California consistently leads the nation in reports of laser attacks. Over 3,500 laser attacks were reported in 2011.

18 Year-Old Man Arrested After Being Indicted for Pointing a Laser at an Aircraft

A North Hollywood man was taken into custody this morning after being charged in a federal indictment that alleges he pointed the beam of a laser at multiple aircraft, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and André Birotte, Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.

Adam Gardenhire,18, was arrested this morning at his North Hollywood residence without incident. Gardenhire was named in a two-count indictment filed yesterday in United States District Court in Los Angeles that alleges he pointed the beam of a laser at a private plane and a police helicopter.

The federal statute used to charge Gardenhire is part of new legislation recently signed into law by President Obama that makes it a federal crime to deliberately point a laser at an aircraft. The indictment marks the second time a violation of the new statute has been charged in the United States, and the first time one has been charged on the West Coast.

According to the indictment, Gardenhire deliberately aimed a commercial-grade green laser at multiple aircraft on the evening of March 29, 2012. The laser attack was initially reported by a pilot operating a privately owned Cessna Citation. The indictment further alleges that the beam of Gardenhire’s laser was pointed at a helicopter operated by a pilot with the Pasadena Police Department who was responding to the report of the laser attack on the Cessna. Air and ground investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Pasadena Police Department identified Gardenhire as a suspect later that evening, and Gardenhire was taken into custody on state charges of pointing a laser at an aircraft. Gardenhire subsequently posted bail and was released from local custody while the joint investigation continued.

Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. In addition, technology has advanced the effectiveness of laser devices, with a resulting increase in the potential safety hazards for pilots operating aircraft and their passengers and crew. Such safety hazards include temporary distraction and impaired vision, which is particularly dangerous during the critical takeoff or landing phase of flight. In addition, pilots have reported the need to abort landings or relinquish control of the aircraft to another pilot as a result of laser attacks. California consistently leads the nation in reports of laser attacks. Over 3,500 laser attacks were reported in 2011.

Gardenhire is scheduled to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge this afternoon in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.

If convicted of both charges in the indictment, Gardenhire faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Gardenhire is also subject to civil penalties by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the FBI.

Gardenhire is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Laser Pointed At Jet Plane And Police Helicopter

An 18 year-old man from North Hollywood was arrested Thursday night, after a private jet making a landing at Bob Hope Airport, and a police helicopter looking for the suspect, were hit with a laser.

The incident began when a Cessna Citation twin-engine private jet was landing on the East/West runway at Bob Hope Airport.  The pilots were hit with a laser as they were on close final approach, about a half-mile from the runway.  When the plane arrived at Million Air, 2800 N. Clybourn Ave., they flagged down an Airport Police officer and reported the incident.

The Airport police contacted the Burbank Police Department.   The Burbank Police helicopter was not in service, but the Pasadena Police Department’s PD-One helicopter was on patrol and responded, as did an airship from the Los Angeles Police Department.    While in the area west of the airport in North Hollywood, the Pasadena helicopter was also hit by a laser being pointed at them from the ground.  Using their high-tech radar system, the officers on board the helicopter were able to lock onto the location and pinpoint a house where the laser was coming from.    The pilot and observer apparently escaped injury.  Lasers pointed at aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot, and can cause serious eye injury.

Ground units from the Airport, Burbank, and Los Angeles Police Departments converged on the 6400 block of Bakman Ave.  The suspect’s location is just north of Victory Blvd., and one block east of Tujunga Ave. in North Hollywood.  The area is just south of the landing pattern for the airport.   Airport Police officers contacted the residents of the home that the helicopter had pinpointed.   The 18 year-old son of the home’s owners admitted to officers that he was the one pointing the laser.   Officers confiscated a laser and booked it into evidence.

The unidentified teen was placed under arrest, and taken to the LAPD’s North Hollywood Station for booking.  Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a felony, and as of January 1, of this year, it is also a federal crime.

On March 20 a drill was held at Bob Hope Airport with the cause of the faked crash being a laser which blinded the pilots during the landing (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

This incident bears a chillingly eerie similarity to the scenario used in the Emergency Exercise that was held at Bob Hope Airport on March 20.  In the drill, a passenger jet is on close final approach to the runway, when someone on the ground shines a laser at the plane, blinding the pilots.  The plane makes a hard landing, partially collapsing the nose gear, and causing the plane to veer off the runway and crashing into a construction site before exploding and bursting into flames.  In the drill, 15 people are killed and 50 injured.   In the real thing Thursday night, Airport Police report that no one was injured

 

Note: Ross A. Benson contributed to the writing of this story.