Friday, September 11, 2015

Federal Aviation Administration facility arsonist gets 12 1/2 years in prison

Brian Howard
A disturbed Naperville man who set fire to an Aurora radar facility last year, disrupting air traffic across the country, was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison Friday.

Brian Howard faced as much as 30 years in prison.

On Sept. 26, Howard, who was employed as a contractor by the FAA, walked into the air traffic facility in Aurora, cut telecommunication wires and set a fire, before cutting his throat and wrists.

The sabotage stranded thousands of air travelers and disrupted flights across the country for several days. It disabled the facility for two weeks and caused the FAA to reassess its backup systems.

“This wasn’t merely an inconvenience,” U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman said. “This was far more than that . . . Inconvenience doesn’t begin to describe what
happened here.”

Feinerman said that while Howard didn’t want to see any planes crash, “he wanted to increase the risk of danger,” as he sought to lash out at his former employer.

The judge described Howard’s crime as “an extremely selfish act.”

He also said Howard “accepted responsibility quickly and unequivocally.”

Howard pleaded guilty in May of this year to willfully disabling an air navigation facility, hoping the judge would give him treatment for mental health issues.

Prosecutors, in their sentencing memorandum to the judge, sought a 13 year prison term and a $4.5 million fine.

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