Man accused of targeting police copter with laser

 Inquirer staff writer Robert Moran reports:

A Williamsport, Pa., man was arrested today by the FBI for allegedly endangering a Philadelphia police helicopter crew with a laser pointer last year.

James Gautieri, 51, is accused of repeatedly targeting a police helicopter with a green laser on April 30, 2008. The laser temporarily blinded the pilot, Lt. Anthony Ginaldi, forcing him to abort a landing and relinquish control of the helicopter to his co-pilot, according to an FBI affidavit.

Ginaldi regained control of the aircraft and located Gautieri in the area of Leon and Etta Streets in Torresdale, the FBI said. Officers on the ground found Gautieri hiding behind a shed with a laser pointer on the ground nearby, the FBI said.

Gautieri was being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, but now faces federal charges pending a formal indictment. If convicted, he faces a maximum 20 years in prison.

Read more breaking news in our From The Source blog.