Hubbard man guilty of flashing laser at helicopter
A Hubbard man awaits sentencing for flashing a laser pen at a helicopter.
Forty-seven-year-old Nicholas Vecchiarelli pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with aircraft when he appeared for a hearing in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on Thursday. In return for the plea, a charge of obstructing official business was dropped.
A camera operator from a Cleveland television station told police last fall 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 Vecchiarelli confessed and gave them the laser.
In a similar case decided in May, a federal judge placed 34-year old Travis Krzysztofiak of Boardman on three years probation for aiming the beam of a laser pointer at the helicopter as it approached Akron Children's Hospital in Boardman on June 15 of last year.
Krzysztofiak pleaded guilty earlier to violating a provision of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that makes it a federal offense to shine a laser pointer at an aircraft or it's flight path.
The statute was enacted in response to a growing number of incidents of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by laser beams.