A 51-year-old Medford man has been convicted of shining a green laser beam into a State Police helicopter that was escorting a liquid natural gas tanker through Boston Harbor, federal prosecutors said.
Gerard Sasso, who shone the powerful green laser on the helicopter on the night of Dec. 8, 2007, was the second person in the country to be convicted of interfering with a pilot by lasering an aircraft, the US Attorney's office said in a statement.
The pilots saw the light coming toward them and despite taking evasive action, the laser filled their cockpit with an intense sparkling green light, prosecutors said.
Sasso was convicted Monday in US District Court in Boston of one count of willfully interfering with an aircraft operator with reckless disregard for human life, and one count of making false statements. Judge Joseph L. Tauro set sentencing for April 29.
Nationwide, during 2008, there were more than 900 reports by pilots of laser beams illuminating their planes, according to a Federal Aviation Administration database obtained by the Globe.
Eight of those reports came from Massachusetts, with the rays hitting everything from commercial airliners landing at Logan International Airport to a State Police helicopter to the blimp floating over a Red Sox playoff game, according to a review of FAA data.
The FAA takes all such incidents very seriously, officials said, because of the potential that pilots might be temporarily blinded by the beams.
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