CINCINNATI – Two Cincinnati-area men have pleaded guilty to illegally flying drones over professional sporting events in Cincinnati.
“It is not worth risking federal criminal charges to illegally fly a drone over events like Reds and Bengals games. Even if there is no intent to harm, this conduct poses a direct risk to the players and the individuals in the stands,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “As we kickoff FC Cincinnati and Reds seasons this month, and look to summer concert season, we ask the public to refrain from using drones illegally over events.”
“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.”
It is illegal to fly drones over stadiums that are designated as a Temporary Flight Restriction zone during sporting events. The two defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2022 for separate incidents involving Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds events.
The Cincinnati Bengals hosted an NFL playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on Jan. 15, 2022. During the game, Dailon Dabney, 24, of Cincinnati, illegally flew his drone into the stadium and hovered over the players and portions of the stadium crowd. Dabney recorded his drone flight and posted the video to social media sites and YouTube.
Dabney pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Matthew W. McFarland.
April 12, 2022, was Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds’ 2022 season and featured the first game of the season at Great American Ballpark. Travis Lenhoff, 38, of Northern Kentucky, flew a drone into the restricted flight area of Great American Ballpark during the Opening Day festivities.
Lenhoff pleaded guilty today before Senior U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott.
Both defendants pleaded guilty to one count of violating a Temporary Flight Restriction, a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in prison, one year of supervised release and a $100,000 fine.
Any drone that weighs more than .55 pounds and less than 55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Dabney’s and Lenhoff’s drones were not registered with the FAA, and they do not have a remote pilot certification.