A Mesa man must serve at least five days in jail for using a bright spotlight to harass the crew of a police helicopter, a judge decided Thursday.
David DeGroote, 38, was sentenced in Mesa Municipal Court on misdemeanor charges of endangerment, disorderly conduct and criminal nuisance.
His punishment, as handed down by Judge Paula O. Burgess, also includes mandatory counseling and three years of unsupervised probation.
If DeGroote completes those without incident, the court will suspend the remaining 25 days of jail time in his sentence.
According to police records, in November 2006, a Mesa police helicopter was searching for suspects in the theft of a bank’s automated teller machine.
One of the crew members was wearing night-vision goggles to aid in the hunt.
When the helicopter flew over DeGroote’s home, at 10437 E. Kiva Ave., a high-powered light blinded the crew for about 30 seconds, they said.
DeGroote has claimed since the incident that the police department’s aviation unit has harassed him and his family.
But prosecutors and the judge noted DeGroote’s residence is underneath the flight path of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, about 5 1/2 miles to the southwest.