HAWTHORNE, N.Y. -- United States Attorney Preet Bharara filed charges against a Hawthorne man for allegedly aiming a high-powered laser pointer at a Westchester County Department of Public Safety helicopter that was conducting surveillance in July 2013, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.
Philip Avery Putter, 40, allegedly aimed the green laser pointer at two helicopters during a fireworks celebration at Kensico Dam Park. Pilots claim the pointer was on them for 4-5 seconds and prevented them from seeing objects outside the aircraft and impaired their ability to read on board instrumentation, according to the attorney's statement.
"Aiming a high-powered laser pointer at an aircraft is serious business; it can cause a deadly crash," Bharara said in a statement. "The public should know that those who engage in such conduct are committing a federal crime.”
Police were able to follow the path of the beam into the crowd and found Putter allegedly holding a laser pointer, according to the statement.
Putter was charged with one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. If convicted he could spend up to five years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney.