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Missoula man charged with aiming laser at plane

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modern aircraft against a sunset

A Missoula man has been charged in federal court with aiming a laser pointer at an airplane flying overhead near Great Falls.

Brian John Loven, 41, pleaded not guilty to the charge in U.S. District Court in Great Falls on Tuesday. 

Loven will be represented by a public defender. He remains out of custody but under certain conditions.

The indictment in Loven's case, filed on June 4, alleges Loven aimed the beam of a laser pointer at, and in the flight path of, SkyWest Flight # 3566 on March 3 while in Cascade County.

If convicted, Loven could be sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. 

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 21 incidents in which lasers were pointed at aircraft in Montana alone in 2019. No injuries were reported as a result of those incidents. Prosecutors did not describe any injuries as a result of the alleged laser pointing in court documents filed in Loven's case. 

The FBI and Great Falls Police Department investigated the case, according to the U.S. District Attorney's Office. 

His next hearing is set for Nov. 11 in U.S. District Court in Great Falls. 

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