Hubbard man pleads not guilty to flashing laser at helicopter
WARREN, Ohio - A Trumbull County judge has ordered a Hubbard man to stay away from lasers.
That order came on Thursday from Judge Ray Rice as he arraigned Nicholas Vecchiarelli, who is accused of pointing a laser at a news helicopter covering high school football games in October.
A camera operator from a Cleveland television station tells police that he saw the green laser light several times as his helicopter flew over the Hubbard area.
Officers tracked down the source of the laser to the area of Wendemere Drive and Meadowland Drive.
That's where Vecchiarelli was found pacing in his driveway with a police scanner and a green laser pointer. Police say the man confessed to them and gave them the laser.
Vecchiarelli pleaded not guilty to obstructing official business.
The 46-year old could be sentenced to as much as eight years in prison if convicted.
Currently, Vecchiarelli is free on $10-thousand bond.A campaign has been launched to stem the growing problem of lasers being pointed into cockpits.
The campaign, by pilots and federal officials, will warn about the dangers of the lasers. Rewards will be offered for violators.
The Federal Aviation Administration says the number of reported incidents nationwide increased to nearly 4,000 last year, including two here in the valley.
Travis Krzysztofiak is scheduled to be sentenced on federal charges in May for flashing laser light at a medical helicopter as it approached Akron Children's Hospital in Boardman on June 15.
According to the Justice Department, the crime is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years imprisonment.