One Laser Culprit Caught
A New Jersey man has admitted to pointing a laser pen at a bizjet on approach to Teterboro Airport last week, but not before trying to pin the rap on his seven-year-old daughter, according to a Reuters news report. David Banach, 38, of Parsippany, N.J., was arrested last Friday after a laser beam hit a helicopter being used by investigators to pinpoint the source of the laser in a Dec. 29 incident. Pilots of a Citation with six people aboard reported being temporarily blinded by the light as they were on final for Teterboro. One of the pilots was on board the helicopter trying to pinpoint the source when it, too, was illuminated by the green light. New Jersey was not the only site of the incidents. When the laser hit the helicopter, the pilot returned fire ... with his searchlight ... and officers on the ground moved in. According to Reuters, Banach originally told them his seven-year-old daughter was to blame but he fessed up to lasing the helicopter and the Citation after taking a lie-detector test. Banach appeared in court in Newark on Tuesday and was charged under the Patriot Act with interfering with a flight crew. He was also charged with giving false statements to the FBI. He was released on $100,000 bond. U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie told USA Today the hefty charges "send a clear message to the public that there is no harmless mischief when it comes to airplanes." Banach's lawyer, Gina Mendola-Longarzo, told The Associated Press her client was just playing with the laser with his daughter, illuminating trees and neighboring houses. "One would think they would want to devote their time and resources to prosecuting real terrorists, not people like my client," she said. Lasers have been directed at two airliners in Colorado Springs; a Continental 737 at 8,500 feet on approach to Cleveland; airliners at Houston, Medford, Ore., and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C.; and the Citation and helicopter near Teterboro, N.J.