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Sun, May 09, 2010

Louisiana Man Now In The Spotlight With Guilty Plea

Admitted To Blinding A Military Helicopter Crew With A Spotlight

58-year-old Charles Clausen has pleaded guilty in federal court to shining a spotlight into the cockpit of a Louisiana Army National Guard helicopter last year, blinding the pilot for several seconds, according to New Orleans U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

Clausen, a retired Marine, lives in a trailer near Hammond Northshore Regional Airpark (KHDC). He admitted in a federal affidavit that the October 6th incident was an attempt to keep the LANG's UH-60 Black Hawks from flying over his home.

According to NOLA.com, the helicopter was returning from a training mission and was on approach for landing on night vision goggles when Clausen shone a 3-million candlepower spotlight into the cockpit, temporarily blinding the crew. Federal Air Marshal Jeffery Woman said in an affidavit that the helo was at about 1,000 feet when the incident occurred. The crew circled around and saw Clausen standing next to his trailer, who then turned the spotlight on a second time.


File Photo

"We will not tolerate abuses of the military, nor will we tolerate interference with the safety and efficiency of transportation in this country," said Letten, a retired Naval Reserve officer.

The training mission involved five additional Black Hawks and a C-12 transport plane assigned to the 1/224th Air Assault Helicopter Battalion, based at KHDC. The unit returned last year from its second tour of duty in Iraq.

Clausen is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8th.

FMI: www.la.ngb.army.mil, www.laed.uscourts.gov

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