Portland man pleads guilty to aiming lasers at 2 airplanes, could get 2 years in prison

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PORTLAND, Oregon — A Portland man charged with aiming a laser beam at two commercial airliners flying toward Portland International Airport has pleaded guilty in federal court.

When the beam struck a United Airlines flight Oct. 13, one of the pilots reported that it "lit up the entire cockpit" and the pilot was temporarily blinded and disoriented, federal prosecutor Stephen Peifer said.

The FBI says the airport is a hot spot for attacks on aircraft with laser beams.

The man arrested after an aerial investigation is Stephen Francis Bukucs, 40, a former security guard.

He entered his plea Tuesday in federal court, The Oregonian reported (http://bit.ly/1pa7HOR ).

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 24, and the government plans to seek a two-year term.

The laser beam Bukucs used was a high-powered version, Peifer said, not the type used as a pointer in an office presentation.

Investigators looking into reports of laser attacks flew two airplanes as decoys in August 2013.

One, a Portland police aircraft, was targeted by a laser beam and relayed the location of the light's origination to officers on the ground, Peifer said.

Officers saw a laser light coming from an apartment complex.

Then they installed surveillance cameras that eventually recorded Bukucs targeting a laser at the United flight as well as a JetBlue flight the same night, Pfeifer said.

After his arrest, Bukucs admitted to more than two dozen laser strikes, Peifer said.

Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

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