A North Hollywood man this week became just the second person to plead guilty under a new federal law that makes it a crime to point a laser beam at an aircraft -- in this case, a jet and police helicopter near Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, officials announced Tuesday.
The man, Adam Gardenhire, 19, pleaded guilty Monday to deliberately pointing a commercial-grade green laser beam in March at multiple aircraft, including a Netjet-operated aircraft and Pasadena Police Department helicopter, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The incident was initially reported by the Netjet pilot, who was struck by the laser beam as he was preparing to land at Bob Hope Airport. The incident impaired his vision until the next day, according to the plea agreement.
When a Pasadena police helicopter responded to the reported laser attack, Gardenhire’s laser struck the pilot multiple times. The pilot was wearing protective gear and so did not suffer vision impairment, according to prosecutors.
President Obama signed the new law in February after a growing number of pilots reported being distracted or temporarily blinded by lasers. Last year, more than 3,500 laser attacks were reported nationwide, according to the FBI.
Gardenhire faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News