- Associated Press - Monday, July 7, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Federal authorities say a 25-year-old Austin man has pleaded guilty to aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter.

Gabriel Soza Ruedas Jr. entered his plea Monday in federal court in Austin. The 25-year-old faces up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors say his arrest in May was the first in Central Texas under a 2012 federal law that bars aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.

They say the Feb. 15 incident near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport disrupted the chopper’s flight plans and prompted air traffic controllers to issue a warning to all pilots in the area.

Authorities say the effect of a laser pointer’s light inside a chopper’s cockpit is like a disco ball and can be disorienting and distracting.

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