Dallas Man Pleads Guilty in Federal Court, Admits He Aimed a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 28, 2013|
DALLAS—Kenneth Santodomingo, aka “Juan Goel Pagan” and “Juan Joel Pagan,” 22, appeared this morning before U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor and pleaded guilty to an indictment charging one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. Santodomingo was arrested on January 28, 2013, after a criminal complaint was filed for the offense, and he has been in custody since that time. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The court set Santodomingo’s sentencing hearing for July 25, 2013.
According to documents filed in the case, at approximately 4:08 a.m. on January 28, 2013, two Dallas Police Department (DPD) officers were operating a DPD helicopter over a residential area in search of a motor vehicle burglary suspect when the cockpit was illuminated by a laser pointer approximately four times over a 10-minute period. The intensity of the light refracting across the aircraft’s windscreen obscured the pilot’s vision and impaired his ability to view the instruments and the ground, forcing the pilot to turn the aircraft in a different direction to avoid vision damage and maintain aircraft control.
After pinpointing the origin of the laser, the pilots observed, via the onboard camera’s thermal imaging, an individual in the backyard of a residence in the 7000 block of Lake June Road. When patrol officers arrived at the house, Santodomingo answered the door, admitted to having pointed the green laser light at the helicopter out of curiosity as to how far it would go, and handed over the laser pointer to the officers.
The case is being investigated by the DPD, the FBI, and the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Air Marshal Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Miller is in charge of the prosecution.