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Press Release

Union County, New Jersey, Man Admits Aiming Laser Pointer At Television News Helicopter

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. - An Elizabeth, New Jersey, man today admitted repeatedly aiming a laser pointer at a television news helicopter, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Stiven Lopez-Bender, 27, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. 

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Nov. 11, 2015, a news helicopter went to a location in Elizabeth to cover a story. Lopez-Bender admitted that when the helicopter arrived at the location, he aimed a green laser and struck the flight deck of the helicopter through the main windshield. 

Lopez-Bender also admitted he pointed the green laser at the helicopter a second time as he emerged from his SUV and again as he walked toward an apartment building. Afterwards, he pointed the green laser at the helicopter for a fourth time from a window in the apartment building he had just entered.    

The charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2016.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited Special Agents and Joint Terrorism Task Force Officers of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, and members of the Elizabeth Police Department, under the leadership of Police Director James Cosgrove, with the investigation leading to today’s plea.

The case is being prosecuted by Joyce M. Malliet of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark.

Defense Counsel: David Holman, Esq.

Updated June 14, 2016

National Security
Press Release Number: 16-170