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Two men plead guilty to illegally flying drones over Cincinnati sporting events in 2022

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Posted at 1:27 PM, Mar 14, 2023

CINCINNATI — In 2022, two Cincinnati sporting events — a Bengals' playoff game and the Reds' opening day game — were hovered over by drones that were not licensed or permitted to be there, which led to criminal charges for two local men.

On Tuesday, 24-year-old Dailon Dabney and 38-year-old Travis Lenhoff plead guilty to one count of violating a temporary flight restriction. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in prison, one year of supervised release and a $100,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

The men were indicted by a federal grand jury in September.

They acted independently of one another, officials said.

When the Bengals hosted an NFL playoff game at then-Paul Brown Stadium in January 2022, Dabney flew his drone over the stadium, hovering it over players and portions of the crowds in the stands. Officials said Dabney recorded his drone's flight and uploaded the video to social media sites and YouTube.

Later that year, in April, officials said Lenhoff, of Northern Kentucky, flew his drone into a restricted flight area of Great American Ballpark during Opening Day.

"Flying a drone over a stadium full of fans is dangerous and illegal without the proper FAA training, licensing and approved flight plan," said William Rivers, FBI Cincinnati special agent in charge, in a press release. "We will continue to work with the FAA and local police to investigate these incidents when proper FAA protocols and procedures are not followed."

Law requires that any drone weighing more than roughly half a pound and less than 55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration; officials said neither Dabney's nor Lenhoff's drones were registered and neither man had a remote pilot certification.

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