Gerard Sasso, 52, of Medford, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) has made Massachusetts history. In fact, he is not only a “first” in the Commonwealth, but is a “second” in the country! Unfortunately, he will be “celebrating” in a federal prison.
Yesterday, the Defendant became the first person in the state — and the second in the nation — to be convicted for lasering an aircraft. He was convicted of charges of willfully interfering with an aircraft operator with reckless disregard for human life, and of making false statements, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.
The Defendant received the award of three years in prison for shining a laser at a State Police helicopter that was escorting a tanker through Boston Harbor, federal prosecutors said.
Apparently, the Defendant shined a powerful green laser on the helicopter on December 8, 2007. Prosecutors said the pilots were able to determine the light was likely coming from his apartment. When the police went to his apartment to investigate, he initially denied having the lasers but later confessed, prosecutors said. The green laser was recovered, along with 10 other lasers, from the apartment.
“This sentence should send a strong message that interfering with an aircraft in any way will result in aggressive prosecution and stiff sentences. Such actions endanger lives and disrupt air travel, and will not be tolerated,” quota the government.
My experience as a Boston criminal law attorney has made me somewhat overly cautious. At least, that is what my kids say. I remember when my son got his hands on a laser pointer and thought it was hysterical to annoy people with it. I not only thought it was not funny, but was worried if there could be some kind of criminal proceeding against someone playing with these things.
I admit that it never occurred to me that, if you pointed it skyward, it could actually interfere with planes or helicopters!
As you may know, though, ignorance of the law is not a defense. Further, prosecutors seem to be almost falling over themselves to fit everyday actions into criminal cases, if only to keep up with technology. This is why, for example, cyber crime is particularly popular among law enforcement.
Had the Defendant been playing with the laser and had no idea it could interfere with pilots, he might have had a defense. Maybe the court would have felt bad for him. However, he made one mistake. A big one.
He lied to law enforcement.
As you know, you may refuse to answer questions of the investigating officers. However, you may not try to mislead them in their investigation.
That, believe it or not, is a felony called “intimidation of a witness”.
Not only is it an additional crime, but the prosecution will normally use the deception as “consciousness of guilt” to help prove that you knew you had committed a criminal act.
So, when the blue arm of the law comes a-calling, do not lie. Call. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney who can best advise you on what to do.
If you would like to discuss a criminal matter with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
To view the original story in which parts of this blog were based, please go to : http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2011/01/medford_man_con_1.html?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed7_HP