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Man accused of pointing laser at police helicopter

April 22, 2006|By Lauren Vane

A man who allegedly pointed a high-powered laser at a police helicopter was arrested Thursday at his home in the Villa Point condominiums in Newport Beach, police said Friday.

Peter Kontos, the president of the Villa Point Condominium Assn., is also under investigation in the embezzlement of more than $500,000 from the condo association, Newport Police Sgt. Bill Hartford said. Kontos has not been charged in the embezzlement.

While serving a search warrant at Kontos' condo early Thursday, police recovered a pointer laser and found more than $100,000 in cash and several grams of cocaine, Hartford said.

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Kontos, 30, is being held on $500,000 bail at the Orange County Jail on charges of discharging a laser at an aircraft. Kontos' phone number is unlisted, and the condominium association could not be reached Friday.

While conducting an aerial patrol April 1 in the area of the Villa Point condominiums near Balboa Island, the pilot of the police helicopter reported that a "blinding green laser light" hit the cockpit three times, Hartford said.

"The main danger there is it obviously interferes with the flight operation of the helicopter," he said.

A crew member onboard the helicopter directed patrol units to the address where they believed the laser beam originated. Police attempted to talk to the resident, but no one was home, Hartford said.

A search of Kontos' home Thursday to investigate the laser incident and the embezzlement yielded an Alpec Green Laser Pointer, police said. The laser pointer, which is typically used in presentations, projects a beam up to 2,000 yards, said Ingrid Ramirez, a customer service representative at Alpec, the laser manufacturer.

The entire beam can be seen easily at night and can be harmful if pointed into someone's eye, Ramirez said.

"You're not supposed to look at them," Ramirez said. "They're definitely not toys."

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