Skip Navigation
    USAO Home Page
    DOJ Seal


    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index
    Release No. 10-156

    October 25, 2010

    COACHELLA VALLEY MAN SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR SHOOTING LASER AT CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL HELICOPTER

    RIVERSIDE, California – A Cathedral City man was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison for shooting a laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter that was providing support during a suspected burglary call.

    Nathan Ramon Wells, 19, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. In addition to the prison term, Judge Phillips ordered Wells to be on supervised release for three years, during which he must spend three months at a community corrections center administered by the United States Bureau of Prisons.

    Wells pleaded guilty in September to a felony count of interference with an operator of an aircraft, admitting that he knowingly fired a laser at a police helicopter.

    On June 3, 2009, CHP officers in a helicopter were assisting Cathedral City Police Department investigators who had responded to a possible residential burglary call. While flying at an altitude of approximately 700 feet, the cockpit of the helicopter suddenly illuminated with a bright green light, which cased both CHP officers to look away and alter their course. The helicopter crew determined that the source of the light was a vehicle, which they followed through Cathedral City. Police on the ground stopped the vehicle, which contained Wells, who was in possession of a laser device.

    The case against Wells is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received assistance from the Cathedral City Police Department.

    #####

    Release No. 10-156

    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index