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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 17, 2019

Man Indicted For Aiming A Laser Pointer At A Coast Guard Helicopter

SAN JUAN, P.R. – Yesterday, a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment against Juan L. Pantoja De Jesus, charging him with aiming the beam of a laser pointer at a Coast Guard helicopter, announced United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The case is being investigated by Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS).

On or about June 12, 2018, Pantoja De Jesus knowingly aimed the beam of a laser pointer at a Coast Guard helicopter, and at the flight path of such aircraft, which was an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 39A.

“Aiming laser pointers at aircraft while in flight is a serious safety threat. It may create a visual distraction or even damage a pilot’s eyes, and may force a pilot to relinquish control of the aircraft to a co-pilot. In cases of law enforcement aircraft, responses to emergency or crime scenes may have to be terminated because of a laser interference. The public should be aware that there are severe consequences to these actions,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodriguez-Velez.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward G. Veronda is in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the defendant faces imprisonment of up to 5 years and a fine. The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Topic(s): 
National Security
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Updated January 18, 2019