California man sentenced in laser pointer incident

by The Associated Press
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A laser pointer.

A laser pointer.

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – A Central California man accused of pointing a high-powered laser at a police helicopter has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said a judge issued the sentence against 26-year-old Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, of Clovis, on Monday.

Rodriguez was accused of pointing a green laser 13 times more powerful than common pointers at a Fresno Police Department helicopter in 2012. The helicopter had been called to an apartment complex where an emergency helicopter for a children’s hospital also reported being targeted by a laser.

Authorities say such laser strikes can blind pilots and lead to crashes.

A federal jury in Fresno found Rodriguez and his 23-year-old girlfriend, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, guilty of charges in the case in December. Coleman is scheduled to be sentenced in May.

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