Two Alice Men Arrested for Aiming Laser Pointer at Helicopter
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 01, 2013|
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—Joshua Nathaniel Vela and Jon David Lopez, both 21 and from Alice, have been arrested following the return of a two separate indictments alleging felony charges of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
The indictments were returned on March 27, 2013, and both defendants surrendered to the FBI today. Lopez was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Owsley, who ordered he be detained pending a detention hearing set for April 4, 2013, while Vela appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Janice Ellington and was released on a $20,000 personal recognizance bond. Vela and Lopez are both set for arraignment on April 4, 2013, in Corpus Christi.
According to the indictment, on December 27, 2012, each knowingly aimed the beam of a laser pointer at the Halo Flight helicopter Halo Three while the aircraft was in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.
In response to a growing number of incidents of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by laser beams, Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which specifically prohibits aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.
If convicted, Vela and Lopez each face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
The cases were investigated by the FBI with the assistance of Robstown Police Department. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. Thorpe, Jr.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.