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Laser prank could mean prison time

Light was aimed at sheriff’s copter

Posted: September 18, 2008 9:09 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A common practical joke might cost Matthew Ponek time in jail.

Deputies arrested Ponek Saturday night for shining a laser pointer at a Los Angeles County Sheriff's helicopter.

The helicopter pilots were searching the Ash Glen Circle area in Valencia when the laser was pointed directly at the aircraft, said Lt. Brenda Cambra of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's station. Deputies in the helicopter tracked the beam to the residence and sent ground units in to apprehend Ponek, Cambra said.

Deputies arrested Ponek and charged him with a felony count of discharging a laser at an aircraft. If he is found guilty Ponek could serve up to four years in prison, Cambra said.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office makes the decision whether or not to press felony charges against Ponek, Cambra said.

Ponek's crime might seem harmless, but the light produced by a laser pointer is strong enough to cause eye damage, Cambra said.


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