Omaha Man Gets Two Years In Prison For Pointing Laser At Aircraft

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An Omaha man is facing two years in prison after being convicted of shining a laser pointer at an aircraft.

Thirty-year-old Michael Smith was sentenced in federal court on Monday.

The Honorable John Gerrard sentenced Smith to 24 months in prison to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release.

On April 24, 2013, Smith was convicted by a federal jury, following a two-day trial, for targeting an Omaha Police Department helicopter with a laser pointer in Northwest Omaha. The police helicopter was responding to a Southwest Airlines commercial flight that reported it had been targeted by a laser one hour earlier.

Smith is the first person indicted in the District of Nebraska under a new federal law making it a federal crime to target aircraft with lasers. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, lasers can temporarily blind a pilot and make it impossible to safely land an aircraft.

Smith faced a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.