Clovis Man Pleads Guilty to Laser Strikes on CHP Plane
FRESNO, Calif. — Jeremy Scott Danielson, 35, of Clovis, pleaded guilty today to striking a California Highway Patrol plane with a powerful green laser beam, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Danielson tracked and struck a CHP plane, Air 43, 18 to 20 times with a powerful green laser pointer. Clovis police officers were dispatched to the source of the laser beam and found Danielson with a laser pointer in his pants’ pocket. As a result of the laser strikes, the pilot and tactical flight officer, who were conducting a routine patrol, suffered flash blindness and watery eyes. The laser pointer was the size of a flashlight and had a danger warning.
Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as powerful laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. This year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there have been over 22 laser incidents reported each day in the United States. The Eastern District of California, which encompasses 34 counties in the eastern portion of California, has a high proportion of reported laser incidents. Lasers can completely incapacitate pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destination, endangering their crew members, passengers and people on the ground.
Danielson is scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on May 31, 2016. He faces a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the CHP, and the Clovis and Fresno Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.