August 28, 2014
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - A Central California man accused of pointing a high-powered laser at a police helicopter has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said a judge issued the sentence against 26-year-old Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, of Clovis, on Monday.
Rodriguez was accused of pointing a green laser 13 times more powerful than common pointers at a Fresno Police Department helicopter in 2012. The helicopter had been called to an apartment complex where an emergency helicopter for a children's hospital also reported being targeted by a laser.
Authorities say such laser strikes can blind pilots and lead to crashes.
A federal jury in Fresno found Rodriguez and his 23-year-old girlfriend, Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, guilty of charges in the case in December. Coleman is scheduled to be sentenced in May.