"I Wish This Had Never Happened"
In the sad case of
David Banach -- the New Jersey man who pointed a laser into the
cockpit of a Cessna bizjet as it passed over his home on
December 29, 2004 -- one thing seems clear: he regrets the entire
"I'm remorseful, I'm ashamed of myself for what I've done,"
Banach told US District Court judge John C. Lifland Friday before
he was sentenced to two year's probation for the crime.
Lifland classified the incident, which reportedly caused
both pilots to lose their night vision as their jet was on approach
to Teterboro, as "a few moments of reckless action in an otherwise
"Mr. Banach never meant any harm to anyone," Lifland
said, adding it was clear Banach had no intentions of
terrorism and, hence, did not warrant a harsh penalty.
Banach faced 20 years in federal prison after he was indicted
last year under the US Patriot Act for painting the bizjet three
times with a Jasper Class 3a laser. He reached a plea deal last November with
"At no time did we believe that Mr. Banach was involved in
terrorism or that he should face a maximum penalty of 20 years in a
federal prison," US Attorney Christopher Christie said.
"Nonetheless, his conduct posed an immediate threat to innocent
"Anyone considering such purposeful conduct can anticipate the
full weight of federal prosecution and a potentially lengthy prison
sentence," Christie added.
Banach said he was
relieved to escape spending time in jail, or paying a fine (he will
only have to pay $100 for court costs.)
"It was almost like a dark cloud was lifting," Banach told the
North Jersey Media Group, "like a heavy burden, a heavy weight
lifted right off my soul."
Despite an end to Banach's legal troubles, his ordeal is still
far from over. He lost his job last week as a cable installer after
his employer learned Banach was to be convicted of a felony. He
also lost his father, Wednesday, to cancer.
"I'm concerned about whether -- who's going to hire me?" he
said. "I wish this had never happened."