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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Turlock Resident Indicted for Aiming Laser Pointer at Sheriff and Emergency Medical Helicopters

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Roger Shane John, 31, of Turlock, charging him with aiming the beam of a laser pointer at two helicopters, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, on the evening of October 22, 2017, John allegedly struck a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, Air 101, five to six times with a powerful green laser, causing visual interference and disrupting an air support response to a domestic violence call. Around the same time, and in the general vicinity of the strikes to Air 101, John struck CalStar 12, an emergency medical helicopter, three to four times. Both aircraft were flying in close proximity to the Modesto Airport at the time of the laser strikes. The laser strikes occurred within the FAA-designated laser-free zone, which encompasses all flight operations at 2,000 feet and below.

This case is 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 is prosecuting the case.

John is scheduled for an arraignment on the indictment on December 15, 2017, in federal court in Fresno.

If convicted, John faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would 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. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated December 14, 2017