Defendant from Shirley Arrested for Aiming a Laser Beam at Aircraft Flying Over Long Island
Complaint Charges Angel Rivas with Using a Laser Pointer to Direct a Laser Beam at a Commercial Airliner Headed for JFK Airport and at a Police Helicopter
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 23, 2013|
Federal agents arrested a Shirley, Long Island man this morning on the charge of aiming a laser pointer at two aircraft in August 2012.
The arrest of Angel Rivas was announced today by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office. The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned before the United States Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay at the United States Courthouse in Central Islip, New York, later today.
According to court filings, on August 21, 2012, the defendant used a laser pointer to direct a laser beam at a commercial aircraft and a Suffolk County Police Department helicopter sent up to investigate the initial incident. Investigators first determined that the beam of light came from the vicinity of the defendant’s residence on William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, New York, and then confirmed that the defendant himself had directed the laser beam at the aircraft and helicopter.
“Laser pointers aimed at aircraft pose many dangers, including disrupting the vision of pilots,” said United States Attorney Lynch. “Last February, President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which specifically prohibited the conduct alleged in the complaint. The safety of American air travelers has been and will continue to be a priority for law enforcement.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General-Investigations, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, the Suffolk County Police Department, and the Port Authority Police Department for their participation in the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos stated, “On a night last summer, Rivas allegedly endangered the lives of passengers and crew of not one but two aircraft and, potentially, people on the ground. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is not a prank; it is a federal crime with penalties befitting its seriousness.”
If convicted of the charge, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charles N. Rose.
The charges contained in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Angel M. Rivas