Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 | 12:54 p.m.
A Las Vegas man was sentenced to eight months in jail for pointing a laser light last year at aircraft landing at McCarran International Airport.
Michael Viera-Crespo, Jr., 28, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court, according to Nevada’s U.S. attorney, Daniel G. Bogden.
U.S. District Judge Miranda Du sentenced Viera-Crespo, who pleaded guilty in March to attempted destruction of an aircraft. In addition to the jail time, Viera-Crespo also will serve three years of supervised release.
Viera-Crespo has been in federal custody since March 27.
Authorities say that on the evening of Aug. 31, 2011, Viero was standing outside an apartment complex near McCarran when he shined a strong green laser light into the cockpit of at least three commercial aircraft on their landing approach. After the airport reported the incidents, Metro Police flew a helicopter to the area, and a laser then beamed at the police helicopter. The helicopter crew contacted patrol units on the ground, which located Viera-Crespo parked at an apartment complex on Tamarus Street and shining the green laser light. Viera-Crespo was arrested at the scene.
In his plea agreement, Viera-Crespo stated that he shined the laser light at the aircraft to interfere with the pilots and that he acted with reckless disregard for the safety of the persons on the aircraft.
“These powerful lasers have the potential to harm a pilot’s vision and affect their ability to safely operate an aircraft,” Bogden said. “We take these cases seriously because of the potential for harm and the risk posed by such criminal conduct to pilots, their passengers and the public.”
Laser pointing incidents involving aircraft have risen dramatically in the last several years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The lasers can temporarily diminish eyesight or blind pilots in planes near the ground, according to FAA research. Some industrial lasers are capable of damaging the eye.
Early this year, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was signed into law and prohibits aiming of a laser pointer at an aircraft or in its flight path.