A Roseville man pleaded guilty June 8 to charges he interfered with the safe operation of an aircraft.
Baltazar Valladres, 30, shined a laser at the STAR5 , a Sacramento Sheriff’s Depatment helicopter as it was investigating an earlier incident involving the lasering of a passenger airliner making its approach to Sacramento International Airport, according to an FBI press release.
Assistant United States Attorney Matthew D. Segal, who is prosecuting the case, said Valladres, who had been drinking, shined a laser at the helicopter and then ran inside his residence. Investigating officers on the ground arrested him and found his laser.
Authorities have recognized that the lasering of aircraft is an increasingly serious problem and are formulating strategies to investigate and prosecute more offenders. The focused beams of a laser remain powerful even at a long distance, and even brief exposure to a laser beam can cause discomfort and temporary visual impairments, such as glare, flash blindness, and afterimages. Such impairments can have very grave consequences for pilots and for the safety of their aircraft in flight, the release states.
“Shining a laser at an aircraft is both dangerous and reckless. It is a serious violation of federal law and will be treated accordingly,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence G. Brown.
Valladeres is scheduled to be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. August 17. The maximum statutory penalty for interference with the safe operation of an aircraft is 20 years in prison.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Federal Air Marshals, the FBI, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, the Roseville Police Department, and the Sacramento Police Department.