Fresno, California - A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Thursday against Carlos Villa-Lozano, 30, and Paulina Silva Aguilar, 32, both of Fresno, charging them with aiming the beam of a laser pointer at a California Highway Patrol aircraft, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. Villa-Lozano was also charged separately with making false statements to an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The indictment alleges that on July 22, 2018, Villa-Lozano and Silva used a dangerously bright green laser pointer to strike a CHP fixed-wing aircraft approximately 12 times. The indictment further alleges that Villa-Lozano materially misrepresented to the FBI agent that the laser device was used for one to two seconds “at most” and hit the aircraft only one time.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and California Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.
Villa-Lozano and Silva are scheduled for an arraignment on the indictment on December 21, 2018, in federal court in Fresno. If convicted, Villa-Lozano and Silva face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of the false statement offense, Villa-Lozano faces an additional five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.