- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Federal authorities say a 25-year-old Austin man has been sentenced to two years in prison for pointing a hand-held laser at a police helicopter.

Gabriel Soza Ruedas Jr. was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in July.

Federal law bars aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. 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.

Prosecutors say Ruedas used a laser strong enough to reflect inside the cockpit, causing the pilot to turn his head and avert his eyes. The chopper crew helped Austin police locate Ruedas, who was found with the laser pointer in his pocket.

The incident prompted air traffic controllers to issue a warning to all pilots in the area.

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