(STL.News) – U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd sentenced a Turlock man today to two years and three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for purposefully striking a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s helicopter with the beam of a powerful laser, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
In March 2018, Roger Shane John, 34, pleaded guilty. According to court documents, on the evening of Oct. 22, 2017, John struck a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s helicopter, Air 101, five to six times with a powerful green laser, causing visual interference of both the pilot and tactical flight officer and disrupting an air support response to a domestic violence call. The laser strikes occurred within the Federal Aviation Administration?designated laser-free zone of the Modesto Airport.
According to the guilty plea, John knew that shining a laser at an aircraft is illegal. An examination of John’s laser revealed that it emitted 85 milliwatts (mW) of power and is 17 times more powerful than what is legally permissible for handheld laser devices. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates handheld laser devices, has found that such power emission is dangerous and can cause either temporary visual effects or an eye injury.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, and Modesto Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted the case.