The New Jersey man who smashed a drone into the side of the Empire State Building last month got off the hook with community service and a fine after taking a plea deal, prosecutors said.
Sean Riddle, 28, pleaded guilty in court on Monday to disorderly conduct, taking a deal that reduced the charge from a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment, according to a District Attorney spokeswoman.
He must complete two days of community service before May 9, and pay a $200 fine along with a $120 court fee, and he has to keep his nose clean for a year as part of the terms of the deal, according to his lawyer, Joe Robinson.
Riddle ran afoul of the law on Feb. 4 when he crashed his remote-controlled aircraft into the 35th floor of the skyscraper at around 8 p.m., which sent it careening down to a ledge on the sixth floor, according to police and prosecutors.
Riddle approached a security guard in the lobby of the 85-year-old landmark, who called police instead of helping him retrieve the drone, officials said.
The errant pilot told police that he had been filming a video for an alumni group of his alma mater, the University of Kentucky, when he lost control of the drone due to wind, according to a criminal complaint.
Prosecutors initially charged Riddle with reckless endangerment and pilot intoxication, but he apparently received a lighter sentence in part thanks to accidentally turning himself in. If he had not tried to get his drone back he most likely would not have been caught, the prosecutors said.
Riddle’s drone debacle never put anyone in harm’s way, according to prosecutors.
Robinson, whose law firm Callahan & Robinson regularly works with drone companies, thanked prosecutors for going easy on his client.
“We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the DA’s office and their understanding of the situation,” said Robinson. “It is our belief that Sean Riddle had good intentions and is a good-hearted person, and we are satisfied with the outcome.”
Via NY Daily News
The 27-year-old who crashed a drone into the Empire State Building then asked security to give it back accepted a lenient plea deal on Monday.
Sean Riddle was busted about a month ago for the stunt which put no one in harm’s way, according to prosecutors.
Riddle pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Manhattan Criminal Court and will have to complete two days of community service. He will also have to stay out of trouble and cough up a $200 fine.
“The people are making this offer because no one was injured as a result of the defendant’s actions and luckily, no one was close to being injured,” Assistant District Attorney Charles Carluccio said.
Carluccio said Riddle “lost control” of the device which “got stuck on the sixth floor landing of the Empire State Building, which no member of the public had access to.”
Riddle apparently also scored points for his accidental honesty.
If he had not gone into the lobby of the iconic tower to ask security “for his drone back” the case might never have been cracked, the prosecutor said.
“It may well be that no one would ever know that the defendant was flying a drone that day,” the ADA said.
Judge Tamiko Amaker told Riddle he “must stay out of trouble and not get rearrested, as well as pay a $200 fine.”
His community service must be done by May 9, the judge said. He also owes a court fee of $120.
Riddle’s lawyer Joseph Robinson thanked the district attorney’s office for “working through this issue with us.”
“I think Sean is someone who is a really good person, had good intentions, had the best in heart,” Robinson said.
“I think the prosecution understood that and we do appreciate their understanding and their working with us on this matter.”
Riddle faced up to a year behind bars for reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor.