"Laser Pointer Guy" Indicted on Federal Charge

Man faces up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 fine

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    A man arrested on pointing a laser at a plane says he was tired of helicopters over his home. (Published Wednesday, June 8, 2011)

    A 45-year-old North Texas man has been indicted after officials say he pointed a green laser at a commercial aircraft.

    Sammy Don Ladymon Jr., who is free on bond, has been charged in a federal indictment of interfering with an aircraft. He also faced a similar state charge, which was dropped in favor of the federal charge.

    Number of Lasers Pointed at Planes Sharply Rise

    [DFW] Number of Lasers Pointed at Planes Sharply Rise
    Lasers have been pointed at airplanes 51 times so far this year in North Texas, far more than the 34 incidents in all of 2010. (Published Wednesday, June 1, 2011)

    The indictment says Ladymon "interfered with persons engaged in the authorized operation of an aircraft" -- read that as pointed the laser at the pilots. It also says he did so with "a reckless disregard for the safety of human life" -- read that as putting the passengers on board in danger.

    In a jailhouse interview with NBC 5 in the summer, Ladymon said he was an amateur astronomer who bought the laser to point at stars. He said he occasionally pointed it at aircraft that he said were buzzing his home and harassing him.

    Garland Man Accused of Pointing Laser at Planes

    [DFW] Garland Man Accused of Pointing Laser at Planes
    For the first time in North Texas, someone has been arrested on suspicion of pointing a laser at an airplane. (Published Saturday, June 4, 2011)

    The FBI caught Ladymon red-handed when one of their search aircraft flew over Ladymon's home.

    "A swarm of vehicles came down the street and said, 'Freeze, FBI,'" Ladymon said. "And I went, 'Ah-hah, now we know whose helicopter it is.'"

    If he's found guilty, Ladymon faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration and Garland police.

    Ladymon's trail will begin Dec. 19.

    The FAA said North Texas is approaching 100 laser strikes this year after a laser incident over Lancaster on Monday night. Last year, Dallas-Fort Worth only had 34 incidents.

    NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this report.