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  • Man's Laser Prank Lands Indictment
Dec 2008

Posted 12/16/2008

US Attorney Michael Sullivan and Transportation Security Administration officials announced that a federal grand jury in Boston has indicted Gerard Sasso of Medford, Mass., for interfering with the operation of an aircraft with reckless disregard for the safety of human life and making false statements. According to authorities, on Dec. 7, 2007, Sasso allegedly shined a powerful green laser beam with a range of up to 3 miles into a Massachusetts State Police helicopter escorting a tanker carrying liquefied natural gas through Boston Harbor, forcing it to abandon its mission to search for the beam's source. Police eventually identified Sasso as the likely source and questioned him. Sasso initially denied involvement and ownership of lasers, but eventually admitted responsibility. Police subsequently recovered 10 lasers from his home. The one allegedly used during the incident was classified as a Class IIIb laser by the Federal Drug Administration, typically used in light shows and in research and industrial applications. The laser creates a risk of burning and/or blindness at distances of up to nearly a half mile, and can startle, distract, disorient, and even temporarily blind pilots at distances of up to three miles. Sasso faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the interference charge and 5 years and a $250,000 fine for making false statements. Sasso was previously charged with the same crimes in a criminal complaint. A date for his arraignment has not yet been set.

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