Paying the price for getting a view from above

Fans better think before trying to get a better view
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 12:10 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Opening Day for the Guardians is three weeks away. Cleveland fans can learn a lesson from two Cincinnati area men who might now think better of trying to get a better view.

Both men pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally flying drones over Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds games.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker said Dailon Dabney, 24, of Cincinnati, illegally flew his drone into Paul Brown Stadium on Jan. 15 as the Bengals hosted the Las Vegas Raiders AFC Wild Card game.

Dabney hovered over players and portions of the stadium crowd and uploaded the video to YouTube and other social media sites, according to Parker.

Travis Lenhoff, 38, of Northern Kentucky, flew a drone into the restricted flight area of Great American Ballpark during Reds Opening Day festivities on April 12, 2022, Parker added.

“It is not worth risking federal criminal charges to illegally fly a drone... even if there is no intent to harm, this conduct poses a direct risk to the players and the individuals in the stands,” said Parker. “We ask the public to refrain from using drones illegally over events.”

Both Dabney and Lenhoff pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating a temporary flight restriction, Parker said. They could receive a one-year prison sentence, a year of supervised release and be ordered to pay a $100,000 fine, Parker explained.

The news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said any drone that weighs more than .55 pounds and less than 55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Dabney’s and Lenhoff’s drones were not registered with the FAA and they do not have a remote pilot certification, according to the release.

Parker said each man is charged with operating an unregistered drone, which is a federal crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

Dabney is also charged with violating a temporary flight restriction punishable by up to one year in prison, Parker said.