NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A Parsippany man pleaded innocent to federal charges that he pointed a hand-held laser device at an aircraft and lied to investigators about it.
David W. Banach, 38, was arraigned Tuesday on an indictment handed up March 23 by a federal grand jury. Defense lawyer Gina Mendola-Longarzo said she entered the plea on Banach's behalf during the brief proceeding.
Banach is accused of pointing a hand-held laser toward a charter aircraft en route to Teterboro Airport on Dec. 29.
According to the indictment, the laser beam lit up the cockpit, causing both pilots a temporary loss of night vision that briefly prevented the pilots from seeing flight instruments and other aircraft in the vicinity.
Mendola-Longarzo has said Banach was simply playing around with the hand-held device on his back deck with his young daughter, using it to look up at the stars and shining it at neighbors' houses.
A tentative trial date of May 31 was set, but Mendola-Longarzo said the date is not realistic and that she expects to file several pretrial motions.