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Press Release

Salem Man Sentenced for ‘Buzzing’ Salem Firefighters with Drone

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia

ROANOKE, Va.  – A Salem, Virginia man, who admitted to flying a drone near the fire station in the City of Salem in July 2019, was sentenced today to two years’ probation, a $100 fine, and the forfeiture of the drone, which had an estimated value of $1,600.  

James Russell Weeks III, 40, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to operating an unregistered aircraft.

Because any drone weighing more than .55 pounds is considered an “unmanned aircraft” by the Federal Aviation Administration, it must be registered before being operated, and Weeks failed to register his drone with the FAA as required.

Weeks admitted to ‘buzzing’ a group of firefighters that stood outside the City of Salem fire station on July 25, 2019, by flying his drone directly at the firefighters, who had to dive out of the way, and then flying the craft into the garage of the fire station where it crashed into a pole.

U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh of the Western District of Virginia made the announcement. 

The Salem Police Department and the United States Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Bassford prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated February 22, 2022