March 10, 2014
ALPA Concurs with 14-Year Prison Sentence for Laser Attack on Aircraft
WASHINGTON—Today, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) issued the following statement after a U.S. District Court sentenced Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, 26, of Clovis, Calif. to 14 years in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Fresno police helicopter during flight. The helicopter “Air 1” was investigating the apartment complex where Rodriguez and his accomplice, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 23, resided following the report of laser strikes on an emergency transport helicopter for Children’s Hospital of Central California. Rodriguez and Coleman were both convicted by a federal jury after a three–day trial in Fresno in December 2013.
“ALPA applauds the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), The Eastern District of California U.S. District Court, and the Clovis and Fresno Police Departments for their vigilance in the investigation and conviction of this case. ALPA has collaborated with the FBI and local law enforcement to launch a nationwide campaign that raises awareness about the severity of illegal laser attacks on aircraft.
“Law enforcement and emergency transport helicopters are particularly vulnerable to these types of attack, since they typically fly at lower altitudes where laser pointers pose the most danger to an aircraft in flight. Mr. Rodriguez has been convicted of deliberately aiming a high-powered laser at multiple aircraft, and we hope that his sentencing, along with the future sentencing of his accomplice, will help to spread the message to others that intentionally aiming a laser at an aircraft is not a prank, but a federal crime with very serious consequences.”
Earlier this year, ALPA launched the Laser Threat Awareness campaign to raise awareness of aircraft laser-illumination threats via public service announcements, billboards, and press releases. You can view several publications related to this issue at ALPA’s Laser Threat Awareness campaign website here.
CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703/481-4440 or Media@alpa.org
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