DENVER – Nathan James Finneman, age 26, of Denver, Colorado, will appear today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge to be advised that he faces charges of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, United States Attorney John Walsh and FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle announced. Finneman is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Denver for his initial appearance.
According to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on July 2, 2014, twice on April 19, 2013 and once on April 20, 2013, Finneman allegedly aimed the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft, namely a Bell helicopter operated by the Denver Police Department. The police helicopter, known as “Air One”, was able to use equipment on board to identify the source of the laser pointer.
“Pointing a laser at the pilot of a helicopter or airplane not only puts the pilot and passengers of the aircraft at risk, it exposes the public on the ground to the danger of an emergency landing or even a crash,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “What might seem like a harmless prank is far from it – laser blinding of pilots is a serious and dangerous crime that we will prosecute.”
“This case demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to ensuring the safety of the nation’s aviation transportation system and those on the ground,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle. “With assistance from our law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to aggressively investigate incidents involving laser attacks on aircraft.”
“Aiming a laser pointer at a helicopter or aircraft is not game – it is a crime,” said Denver Police Chief Robert White. “We are thankful that Air One has the technology to identify persons committing this type crime, as it did in this case.”
If convicted, Finneman faces not more than 5 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine, per count for each of his three counts.
This case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Finneman is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Allison, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
For more information regarding the dangers associated with pointing lasers at aircraft please visit http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2014/february/protecting-aircraft-from-lasers .