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Teen Gets Prison for Pointing Laser at Planes

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A North Hollywood teenager was sentenced Monday to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for pointing a laser at airplanes.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson "said the prison term should serve as a message to other would-be defendants," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Adam Gardenhire, 19, pleaded guilty in October 2012 to aiming a laser beam at an aircraft. He had been arrested in April that year on a grand jury indictment.

This was just the second time the 2012 law making it a federal crime to aim a laser at an aircraft has been prosecuted, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

"In imposing the prison sentence, Judge Wilson rejected Gardenhire's arguments that aiming a laser at an aircraft in flight was not really very dangerous and determined that, by deliberately targeting the aircraft with his laser, Gardenhire had recklessly endangered the safety of the aircraft," the U.S. attorney said.

"According to court documents, Gardenhire deliberately aimed a commercial-grade green laser at multiple aircraft on the evening of March 29, 2012," prosecutors said in the statement. "The laser attack was initially reported by a pilot operating a privately owned Cessna Citation as the pilot was preparing to land at Burbank Airport. The laser struck the pilot in the eye multiple times and caused him to suffer vision impairment that lasted for hours.

"Later that evening, Gardenhire aimed his laser at a police helicopter several times. The helicopter was operated by a pilot with the Pasadena Police Department, who was responding to the report of the laser attack on the Cessna. The helicopter pilot was wearing protective gear and did not suffer eye damage or vision impairment as a result of the laser."

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