A 22-year-old Fresno man has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Fresno to aiming a laser pointer at a California Highway Patrol airplane, authorities said Tuesday.
David Walter Fee faces a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced on Aug. 25.
Fee, who was arrested May 15, remains in the Fresno County Jail.
According to court documents, the CHP airplane, identified as Air 43, was struck up to 50 times by a powerful green laser pointer. As a result, the pilot suffered temporary blindness and Air 43 was forced to break away from its duties relating to a burglary in progress at a Fresno middle school.
The case was investigated by the FBI's Fresno Office, the California Highway Patrol and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen A. Escobar and Michael G. Tierney are prosecuting the case.
Thousands of laser attacks go unreported every year, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Monica Miller, special agent in charge of the FBI's Sacramento field office said in a news release Tuesday.
As part of a national campaign that was launched Tuesday, the FBI will offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at aircraft. The reward is available for 90 days in all 56 FBI field offices. Anyone with information about a laser strike or who sees someone pointing a laser at an aircraft is asked to call the local FBI field office or dial 911.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, email@example.com or @beecourts on Twitter.