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2 Cincinnati-area men indicted for illegally flying drones over Bengals, Reds games

Both men are charged with operating an unregistered drone, which is a federal crime punishable by up to three years in prison.
Credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo, File
FILE - A pedestrian runs through Smale Park on the Ohio River front near Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team, as a celebratory 50th anniversary banner is displayed outside its gates in Cincinnati, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Cincinnati-area men have been charged for illegally flying drones over professional sports events in the city.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, a federal grand jury indicted the men in separate incidents involving the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds’ games.

Dailon Dabney, 24 of Cincinnati, is accused of flying his drone into Paul Brown Stadium (now known as Paycor Stadium) on Jan. 15 during a Bengals’ playoff game.

Dabney allegedly recorded his flight where he hovered over the players and portions of the stadium crowd and posted the video to social media sites and Youtube.

On Opening Day for the Reds’ season on April 12, 38-year-old Travis Lenhoff of northern Kentucky is accused of flying a drone into the restricted flight area of Great American Ballpark during the festivities.

“This is a growing problem that poses a direct risk to the players and the individuals in the stands,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “Even if the operator does not have an intent to harm, the operator could easily lose control and injure someone. Moreover, the sight of a drone flying overhead could lead to a panic in the crowd. If you attend these events like Reds games and Bengals games – leave the drones at home.”

“Flying a drone over a stadium full of fans is dangerous and illegal without the proper FAA training, licensing, and approved flight plan," stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers. “We will continue to work with the FAA and local police to investigate these incidents when proper FAA protocols and procedures are not followed.”

Any drone that weighs more than .55 pounds and less than 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA. According to Parker’s office, Dabney’s and Lenhoff’s drones are not registered and they do not have a remote pilot certification.

Both men are 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, which is punishable by up to one year in prison.

Dabney and Lenhoff are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 12.

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