August 19, 2019
Utah Man Pleads Guilty for Pointing a Laser at an Aircraft and Firearms Charges
On August 19, 2019, Joseph Rocco pled guilty in United States District Court, District of Utah, to aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, receipt of a firearm and ammunition while under indictment, dealing in firearms without a license, smuggling, and sale of a stolen firearm. In April 2018, Rocco was indicted for the laser charge, and in September 2018, for the firearms charges.
The investigation revealed that on January 29, 2018, an activated laser was pointed at a Utah National Guard aircraft. The pilot of the aircraft identified the vehicle the laser was being pointed from. Tooele City Police Department and Utah Highway Patrol were contacted and stopped the vehicle. Joseph William Rocco, a passenger in the vehicle, admitted to shining the laser at the aircraft.
In July and August 2018, while he was under indictment for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, Rocco illegally received 2,000 rounds of ammunition and several firearms, including an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a 9 mm handgun, and other shotguns and rifles. He sold several of the firearms to a person who was prohibited from owning firearms.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with the Utah Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from FAA.