Miami Man Guilty of Aiming Laser Pointer at helicopters

MIAMI – Following a trial in Miami federal court, a jury has found Patrick E. Longsworth, 68, guilty of aiming a laser pointer at two United States Coast Guard helicopters and one Miami-Dade Police Department helicopter.

According to the evidence at trial, the defendant aimed a green laser pointer at three government helicopters in late November last year – two U.S. Coast Guard helicopters, and one Miami-Dade Police Department helicopter. During the first incident, the laser struck a U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer in the eye. Six days later, the Defendant again aimed his green laser pointer at a second U.S. Coast Guard helicopter. Within a half hour of the laser strike to the second U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, a Miami-Dade Police Department helicopter responded to the area and was also struck multiple times with a green laser. Miami-Dade Police Department officers caught that incident on video and were able to direct ground units to the defendant’s residence where they found the defendant in his backyard holding a green laser pointer.

An indictment charged Longsworth with three counts of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 39A. Longsworth proceeded to trial. The jury found him guilty on all three counts.

Longsworth was previously charged in a criminal complaint under case number 22-mj-04163-JG.

Longsworth is scheduled to be sentenced on September 7 at 1:30 p.m. in Miami before U.S. District Judge Rodolfo Ruiz.

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Zinnia P. James, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Southeast Region, and Special Agent in Charge Todd A. Damiani, U.S. Department of Transportation-Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG), Miami Field Office, announced the conviction.

CGIS and DOT-OIG investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra D. Comolli and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Ayer prosecuted it.

The number of laser strikes reported to the Federal Aviation Administration has been increasing since 2018. Laser strikes on aircraft are a serious threat to aviation safety that can incapacitate pilots during flight and can cause eye injuries.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at under case number 23-cr-20017.

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