More than 1 year of prison for Madison Heights man who pointed laser at helicopter

Man caused disorientation to U.S. Customs pilot

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MADISON HEIGHTS - A Madison Heights man has been sentenced to 366 days in prison for a 2010 incident in which he shined a laser pointer at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter. The incident briefly blinded the pilot and co-pilot.

Dennis Berthiaume was playing with the laser in 2010 when he aimed it at a helicopter patrolling a neighborhood for human smugglers. The pilot became disoriented and lowered his special goggles to protect himself. The helicopter had been following a van with illegal immigrants inside.

The pilot was initially startled and distracted by the laser before being struck directly in the eye and becoming disoriented.

The co-pilot then took over, terminated the surveillance mission and began to search the area that the laser came from. The helicopter was hit several more times, and the co-pilot was struck "directly in the eyes, causing disorientation and spotting vision," according to paperwork filed at sentencing.

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