Fresno, California - A federal grand jury returned two indictments today against Jose Javier Rosas, 62, resident of Bakersfield, California, and Jeremy Scott Danielson, 34, of Clovis, California, charging them with crimes relating to laser strikes of law enforcement aircraft, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as powerful laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. Lasers can completely incapacitate pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destination, endangering their crew members, passengers and people on the ground.
Lasing of Kern County Sheriff Helicopter
Rosas was charged with aiming a laser pointer at Air-1, a Kern County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. According to court records, Air-1 was struck last month during the evening hours by a powerful green laser. As a result, the pilot experienced glare, flash blindness, significant loss of night vision, watering eyes, and eye pain and was forced to disengage from a robbery investigation.
Rosas was charged with the laser offense following an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Kern County Sheriff’s Office.
Lasing of CHP Aircraft
Danielson was charged with interfering with the safe operation of a California Highway Patrol (CHP) aircraft, Air 43, and aiming a laser pointer at it. According to court records, Air 43 was struck in August and September of last year by a powerful green laser pointer seized from Danielson. The second incident involved up to 23 laser strikes and occurred while Air 43 was taking off from the Fresno Yosemite International Airport during a critical phase of flight. As a result, the pilot and tactical flight officer suffered flash blindness and watering eyes.
The case was investigated by the FBI, CHP, Clovis and Fresno Police Departments.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting both cases.
Danielson is scheduled for arraignment on the indictment on February 23, 2015. Rosas is scheduled for arraignment on the indictment on February 27, 2015. They both face a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of up to $250,000, if convicted of aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft. Danielson faces an additional prison term of twenty years and a fine of up to $250,000, if convicted of interfering with the safe operation of an aircraft.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.