United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia

11/23/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/23/2020 16:39

Woman Pleads Guilty to Aiming Laser Pointer at Police Aircraft

RICHMOND, Va. - A Henrico woman pleaded guilty today to aiming a laser pointer at a police aircraft while at the Robert E. Lee Monument during a period of civil unrest.

According to court documents, on June 4, Amanda Robinson, 33, traveled to the Robert E. Lee Monument traffic circle located in Richmond. While at the traffic circle, Robinson pointed her laser pointer at a 2006 Cessna aircraft flying above her location operated by police officers of the Metropolitan Aviation Unit. The Metropolitan Aviation Unit officers were conducting aerial surveillance patrols during a period of civil unrest. In aiming the laser pointer, Robinson struck the aircraft on at least two separate occasions and disrupted the pilot's vision. Using an onboard camera, the police officers identified Robinson as the individual aiming the laser pointer and directed police units to her location. Upon arriving to the Robert E. Lee Monument traffic circle, police patrol units detained Robinson and recovered a green laser pointer from her possession.

The Metropolitan Aviation Unit is a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement aviation unit made up of the Henrico County Police Department, the Richmond Police Department, and the Chesterfield County Police Department that conducts aerial operations in the Central Virginia area.

Robinson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2021. She faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Jamie Mazzone, Mid-Atlantic Region Special Agent-In-Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge David J. Novak accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik S. Siebert is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:20-cr-120.