DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Madison Heights man who aimed a green laser at federal agents inside a helicopter has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
Dennis Berthiaume, 44, was playing with the laser in 2010 when he aimed it at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter patrolling a neighborhood in the area of near 12 Mile and Dequindre roads for illegal immigrants
Pilot Michael Sackman became disoriented and lowered his special goggles to protect himself. He saidhe felt a sudden flash of blindness, similar to looking directly at the sun, but suffered no permanent eye damage.
Detroit federal Judge Victoria Roberts said it’s “simply a blessing” that the pilot didn’t lose control and crash.
Berthiaume, who returned to federal court Wednesday for his sentence, allegedly told officers that was using the laser, but hid it in a bedroom dresser after seeing the helicopter’s spotlight on his house.
Berthiaume apologized to the pilot in court Wednesday and said he was simply curious about the laser.
Michael Friedman, Berthiaume’s lawyer, said Berthiaume has limited intellect, which could have contributed to the laser incident.
A sentence of 366 days will allow Berthiaume to shave time off for good behavior.
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