Central Pa. Man Gets Prison For Shining Laser At Philadelphia Police Copter, Disorienting Pilot

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Williamsport, Pa. man has been sentenced to 33 months in prison for shining a high-powered laser at a Philadelphia Police helicopter.

The sentencing judge called 53-year-old James Gautieri “a liar” for claiming that he was merely trying to follow the stars with his laser on the night of April 30, 2008.

Assistant US attorney Salvatore Astolfi says Gautieri homed in on a police helicopter near Northeast Philadelphia Airport and flashed the cockpit many times, hitting Lt. Anthony Ginaldi (above) right in the eyes (see previous stories).

“That laser strike to the officer’s eyes caused him to lose control of the helicopter over a residential neighborhood,” says Astolfi.

The chopper, just 300 feet above the ground, went into a brief nosedive before Ginaldi’s co-pilot, Officer Christopher Clemens, regained control of the aircraft, thereby averting a catastrophe.

“Numerous people were in their home sleeping,” adds Astolfi.  “One person testified that he and his wife were watching television in their home when this incident occurred and their two young children were sleeping. There was a potential that, had the helicopter crashed, it could have landed right on top of that gentleman’s home, killing him and his entire family.”

Lt. Ginaldi says he still is dealing with psychological aftereffects of the incident.

Reported by Paul Kurtz, KYW Newsradio 1060

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One Comment

  1. angry working tax payer says:

    Lasing is very serious and dangerous for aircrews. Philly needs a tsunami to clean it up.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Why don’t we ground these expensive HELicopters? Living in the Northeast is fast becoming like live in a military occupied zone. Nary an hour goes by without sirens blaring and helicopters flying overhead. Maybe if there were more silence there would be more peace.

  3. jayw says:

    this cops looks like he is about to laugh then take his uniform of and go on a fishing vacation using the money from taxpayers.and his excuse will be….psychological aftereffects witch he should not have with all his proper training from philly pd

  4. A citizen says:

    I work almost daily with the Philadelphia Police air unit. They are great people who go out and protect you from the sky while you sit here and attack them. As a pilot thery’re dangers of lasers hitting aircraft. If you google it or look at the FAA website you will see this is a growing problem. Also, the police unit has been hit several times a year with lasers from the ground. Not to mention other aircraft. Yes the story may have been blown up a little by the media but that is no reason to attack him. The people who keep the crack heads from breaking in your door.

    1. Fed up in Philly says:

      @ A citizen, sorry my friend, there is much, much video, audio, and verified accounts of Philadelphia Police lying or grossly embellishing facts to in order to render themselves innocent and others guilty. This police force has a recent history of corruption, abuse of power, drug theft, robbery, brutality, excessive force, aggravated assault and illegal gang activity. Internal Affairs in Philadelphia is one of the busiest departments in the nation. Your friends may be great people, the department as a whole is quite a different story. You mention the word “attack”, perhaps you should check into that further…

  5. Jim Bacon says:

    look at that guy’s mug! would you buy a used car from a guy like that? a philly cop yet. overkill with a vengeance. It makes me, a man in his 70’s, realize whey there is so much disorder in a place like Philadelphia, which was the backbone of law and order in the days of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Surely they would be turning over in the grave on this injustice.

    I am a licensed pilot and have a high rated license in amateur radio..It is curious that no media or govt department has ever mentioned what “high powered” means. I still think it is BS. Also consider the distance that was reported between the device and the pilot. not an easy shot for a 54 year old goofus. When the police and the “authorities” and the media practice do-no-evil I will be the first on line to scold the young, old man for his dirty little practical trick. That includes the pilot who did heroics in the line of duty. DOUBLE BS. I know different. Every pilot has had occasions where they are challenged by something like a speck of dirt in the eye, or lots of other stuff. And, with a copilot yet!. Wow! What BS. The gelable public, though, will believe anything when coming from all of those authorities. You can print that one. But they won’t. If that pilot isn’t lying I WILL EAT MY SHORTS. meanwhile, this guy, who has worked all of his life, is ruined. nice going Philly, I’m glad I left you.

  6. Genos is Great says:

    It’s so tough to believe a Philly cop for something like this. I’m sorry, I think they probably exagerated the story and made this a whole lot worse than it actually was.

    Sorry, Philly cops have been caught in coruption too many times.

  7. dmanonit says:

    the whites are at it again

  8. jayw says:

    Welcome to phily where the cops are a legal gang. And what psychological aftereffects could this 53 yr old cop have? was this his first day on the job? the guy may have priors or something but this whole story sounds like a bad drama show.Amazing on their part for pinpointing the guy he obviously had no brain, did a small lazer at such a distance create such a distraction in both eyes of the cop along with a co-pilot to cause lose of control? this drama show has been way overacted.

  9. Thomas Old City says:

    Sounds a bit suspicious to me. Philly Cops aren’t exactly known to be the most accurate with their recalling of how things happend. Check out some of the audio on youtube of “philadelphia shocking audio” from last month. I was absolutely amazed at how a police sgt lied about the incident.

    Maybe this guy with the laser was up to no-good, maybe he wasn’t, it’s hard for anyone to really know. 33 months sound a bit high, people commit far greater crimes and get less of a sentance.

  10. George Polizzi says:

    Sounds a litte stiff. Did he have pyors?

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