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Sun, Feb 19, 2006

NJ Man Gets Probation For Laser Incident

"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 ordeal.

"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 blameless life."

"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 federal prosecutors.

"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 lives."

"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."

FMI: www.usdoj.com

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