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Man who fired laser pointer at Washington ferry to only pay $9,500

Cyrus Farivar
A United States Coast Guard Hearing Officer has issued a final $9,500 civil penalty against a Washington man who fired a blue laser at a state ferry in October 2015. The fine marks a notable reduction from the preliminary penalty of $100,000 issued in April 2016.
According to a Tuesday statement by the Coast Guard, Mark Raden of Freeland, Washington, was on board the Washington State Ferry Kitsap, traveling between Mukilteo and Clinton, when he fired a laser at the adjacent WSF Tokitae. The vessel’s master and chief mate were hit in the eyes, which reportedly endangered all 106 passengers. 
"Originally there were multiple charges that brought the maximum amount to $100,000 [as] referenced in the original release," Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi, a USCG spokeswoman, told Ars. "Ultimately the hearing officer has the final say and chose to only pursue the one charge for 'interfering with the safe operation of a vessel' and assessed a fine of $9,500." 
According to the USCG, Raden also has a “history of lasering incidents,” and pleaded guilty to related charges in Island County Superior Court, where he was ordered to serve 15 days in jail, perform 240 hours of community service, and pay $3,740.89 in restitution to the master and chief mate.
Such a penalty of practically no jail time is significantly less when compared to other criminal defendants in laser cases involving aircraft, who faced federal criminal prosecution. Those cases have often resulted in sentences of one to two years. (Ars recently profiled the case of Barry Bowser, a man in Bakersfield, California, who was sentenced to 21 months in prison after being convicted at trial of knowingly aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.)
"Interfering with the safe operation of a vessel, particularly a large passenger vessel, endangers all of those on board and can also result in significant environmental impacts," Cmdr. Darwin Jensen, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound chief of prevention, said in the Tuesday statement.
"This one person's irresponsible actions could have had a much more tragic outcome for the passengers of the Tokitae as the vessel was preparing to arrive in Clinton. The Coast Guard will pursue appropriate criminal or civil enforcement actions against anyone who interferes with the safe operation of vessels."
Man who fired laser pointer at Washington ferry to only pay $9,500 Reviewed by Kogonuso on 3:31 PM Rating: 5

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