A Turlock man was sentenced to time in prison for shining a laser at the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department helicopter.
Roger Shane John, 34, of Turlock pled guilty in March 2018 to purposefully striking a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s helicopter with the beam of a powerful laser, according to the Department of Justice release.
On Monday, John was sentenced in federal court to two years and three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.
The incident happened on Oct. 22, 2017. According to the DOJ, John struck the 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’s 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.