Bakersfield man faces federal charges for laser pointing

FRESNO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Bakersfield man was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday, accused of aiming a laser pointer at a Kern County Sheriff's Office helicopter.

The indictment for 46-year-old Timothy Wilson was one of two returned by the jury in Fresno under a 2012 law making it a federal crime to aim the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft.  The other indictment charged two Fresno men for an incident there involving a California Highway Patrol helicopter.

Wilson was arrested in March during a raid at a home in south Bakersfield that failed to locate the laser used in the March 2 incident. In documents filed with the court, Wilson admitted to giving the laser, said to be the size of a flashlight, to his young son.

Investigators later recovered the instrument from Wilson's son in Los Angeles.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Air-1 was struck by a powerful green laser multiple times and it caused enough irritation for the tactical flight officer that the crew was forced to divert attention away from routine patrol.

The Department of Justice said that even a relatively low-powered laser beam can cause discomfort and temporary visual impairment. While prolonged exposure to high-powered beams can cause permanent eye injury.

Wilson is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment April 21. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.