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L.I. Man Accused Of Pointing Laser At Plane, Police Helicopter

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A Long Island man was out of jail on $10,000 bond Wednesday, after being charged with aiming a laser pointer at two aircraft.

Angel Rivas was arraigned Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

Last August, Rivas allegedly pointed a laser beam at a commercial jetliner headed for John F. Kennedy International Airport, as well as a police helicopter.

Three Suffolk police pilots ended up in an emergency room after being on the wrong end of the laser that Rivas allegedly pointed, police said. Sun Country Airlines Flight 8800 out of Reykjavik, Iceland, was on approach to Kennedy Airport in August when at 12,000 feet over Brookhaven, the pilots said they saw flashes of green laser beams.

"Our pilots began to search the area and they, too, were stuck by a beam from a laser," said Capt. John Blosser of the Suffolk Police Aviation Bureau.

As for the police officers, "They, too, were struck from a bead from a laser, emanating somewhere from the Shirley, N.Y. area," Blosser said, adding they were taken to the hospital "For possible eye damage, because headaches from the effect of having a laser hit them in the eye."

Investigators were able to determine the beam came from near Rivas' home in Shirley. Once they pinpointed the location, they were able to track him down.

If convicted, Rivas could be sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Pointing a laser can cause flash blindness for a pilot at a critical moment when a plane is landing, and can also cause involuntary sneezing fits for some people.

The Food and Drug Administration has been cracking down on overpowered lasers -- some are 100 times stronger than what police believe was used over Suffolk, but added even low-level lasers can cause damage.

Do you think a five-year sentence is enough for an offense like this, or too much? Please leave your comments below...

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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