U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
(813) 274-6000
December 16, 2015

Tampa Man Indicted for Pointing Laser at Tampa Police Department Helicopter

TAMPA, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the return of an indictment charging Mark White (40, Tampa) with knowingly aiming a laser at an aircraft. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

According to the indictment, on October 11, 2015, White knowingly aimed the beam of a laser pointer at a Tampa Police Department helicopter that was on aerial patrol.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

On February 14, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which modernizes the nation’s aviation system. This Act establishes a new criminal offense for aiming the beam of a laser pointer 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.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tampa Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rachel Jones.

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