Philadelphia Man Sentenced for Laser Strike Incident
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 10, 2013|
PHILADELPHIA—Daniel F. Dangler, 30, of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to three months in jail, followed by seven months of home confinement, for aiming the beam of a laser at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States. Dangler aimed a laser pointer at a Philadelphia television news helicopter on July 18, 2012. He pleaded guilty on October 17, 2012. U.S. District Court Judge John R. Padova also ordered three years of supervised release.
The news helicopter was on assignment when the news photographer noticed the helicopter cockpit light up with a bright green light. He instructed the pilot not to look in the direction of the beam. A green laser beam is more powerful than a red laser beam, but either can cause retina damage to the crew of an aircraft. The helicopter crew was able to identify the house from which the laser originated, uniformed officers responded, and Dangler was questioned. Initially, he denied using the laser but, on a subsequent interview with FBI agents, he admitted to knowingly shining the laser beam at the helicopter.
On February 14, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which modernizes the nation’s aviation system. This Act establishes a new criminal offense for aiming the beam of a laser at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or at the flight path of such an aircraft. The statute was enacted in response to a growing number of incidents of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by laser beams.
The FAA also has a civil case pending against Dangler in which Dangler could be fined up to $11,000.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Pedro de la Torre.