Breaking News Blog

Thursday, Mar 21 2013 02:37 PM

Bakersfield defendant among those indicted for shining lasers at helicopters

By BREAKING NEWS BLOG

A federal grand jury in Fresno returned three indictments Thursday - including one against a Bakersfield man - in connection with pointing laser beams at aircraft.

The Bakersfield defendant, Brett Lee Scott, 25, was charged with four counts of aiming a laser pointer at a Kern County Sheriff's Office helicopter. Scott was also charged with four counts of attempting to interfere with the safe operation of the helicopter, an offense that was enacted in 2001 under the U.S. Patriot Act and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to court records, Scott allegedly used two different laser pointers to strike the helicopter with powerful green and purple laser beams multiple times during four separate incidents over a three-month period. As a result of the laser strikes, the pilots suffered flash blindness that lasted a few minutes, causing disorientation.

The pilots were able to pinpoint the origin of the beams and, with the help of patrol deputies, identified Scott as a suspect. Scott is scheduled for arraignment on the indictment on Monday.

- Office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Eastern District of California

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