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US: Motocross rider's brother said to aim laser pointer at rivals during race
A video from the helmet cam of one of the targeted racers shows green flashes on his front visor, just before the starting gate drops. In addition, a photo taken at the same time shows a green glow above a distant spectator’s shoulder (circled in yellow below).
After the race, riders complained to MX Sports, the event organizer. Race personnel went through the crowd and soon found a retired pro racer with a green laser pointer in his hand.
Jeff Alessi initially denied the laser attack and tried to blame his girlfriend. A race official confiscated the laser and Alessi’s credentials which turned out to belong to his father. Later, an argument ensued which was captured on video, between Alessi and his father, and a journalist.
On July 22, MX Sports suspended Jeff Alessi’s eligibility and fined him $500. His father was suspended for the rest of the outdoor season. Alessi’s brother Mike, who competed in the disputed race, was fined $10,000 for the laser incident and $5,000 for transferring his father’s credentials to his brother.
The laser was described by MX Sports as “a powerful green laser pointer torch, capable of reaching considerable distance.”
[The following is from the section of MX Sports’ official report, issued July 22, which deals with the laser pointer-related infractions]
On July 20, 2013, moments before the start of the first moto of the 450 class at Washougal, Team MotoConcepts Racing (MCR) crew member Jeff Alessi pointed a green laser light directly at the eyes of competitor Ryan Villopoto as he prepared for the start of the race, bouncing the light back and forth across his goggles. GoPro video from Villopoto’s helmet confirms that mere moments before the drop of the gate, as Villopoto drops his head to watch the drop of the gate, a green laser light flashes back and forth across his visor. Whereas initially the light was directed at his eyes, by dropping his head the light becomes visible on the helmet visor. Upon completion of the race, Villopoto reported the incident to his crew members, who in turn alerted officials about the incident.
Another competitor, Malcolm Stewart, reported he too was the targeted with a green laser light pointed directly at his eyes moments before the start of the Sighting Lap. Stewart was able to identify the location from which the light originated, in the spectator area to the right of the Start Line, and observed a person wearing MCR attire holding the light. Stewart, who was positioned on the start gate adjacent to Mike Alessi, pointed out the person with the laser to Mike Alessi. Upon completion of the Sighting Lap, Stewart kept his head down so as not to be targeted again. Once the race was over, Stewart reported the incident to officials as well.
An MX Sports official, Davey Coombs, went to the area from where the laser was reported to have originated, adjacent to the start line in the general spectating area. There Coombs was told by a crew member from another team that the person with the laser was standing behind him. Apparently, the crew member had overheard the team radio about the incident, and had observed Jeff Alessi with a green laser immediately before the start of the moto. The official observed Jeff Alessi standing in the area to which he was directed, holding what appeared to be a green object between his hands in an apparent attempt to conceal it. Coombs directed Jeff Alessi to approach him, at which time Coombs confiscated the green object from his hands, as well as the season hard card he was wearing that had actually been issued to MCR Team Manager Tony Alessi, Jeff Alessi’s father. Alessi alleged he had just found the laser and that it was broken. As Coombs walked away with the confiscated items, Alessi commenced to verbally attack him and yell at him. As a result, Coombs turned around and addressed Alessi again. Again, Alessi alleged he found the laser and that it was not his. Coombs advised he did not believe him, and that he would have to leave the facility.
Coombs then escorted Jeff Alessi down to the starting gate, into the staging area behind the billboard, toward the exit of the pits, at which time Tony Alessi appeared and asked what was going on. Coombs repeated what had happened. After a brief conversation with Jeff, Tony Alessi turned to Coombs and stated, “You better have evidence, you better have it on video and you better have a lawyer.” Coombs walked away as the 250 class moto was about to start.
At the time, Jeff Alessi was wearing MCR team attire, a radio headset, and was in possession of the Level 3 Team Manager season credential issued to Tony Alessi. Jeff Alessi is the brother of 450 class competitor Mike Alessi, and son of MCR Team Manager Tony Alessi. Despite the evidence, Jeff Alessi denied all culpability, initially claiming he found the laser on the ground, then claiming his ex-girlfriend was responsible and that he was on the other side of the track at the time of the alleged offense.
However, witness accounts indicate otherwise. Two eyewitnesses reported seeing Jeff Alessi in possession of the laser in the same area where he was first identified by Coombs, at the time of the alleged misconduct at the start of the first 450 race. A photograph taken earlier in the day of the MCR pit area depicts team members inside the team transport with what appears to be a green laser light. A member of another team (JGR) parked across from MCR observed a green laser being pointed directly into the JGR rig, and upon looking outside witnessed Jeff Alessi with the laser. Witnesses also reported seeing Jeff Alessi with the laser two days earlier at a night race at Portland International Raceway.
Alessi claimed that an “ex-girlfriend” was responsible, but no name was given.
At approximately 7:15 pm, while on his way out of the facility to the airport, Coombs observed Tony Alessi at the paddock gate talking with police officers. As Coombs was going past in a rental car, Tony Alessi pointed him out to officers, at which time Coombs stopped his vehicle and got out and approached them. Coombs asked Tony Alessi what he wanted to do, at which time Tony Alessi stated, “I’m considering filing charges against you for assaulting my son.” Coombs relayed the sequence of events to the officers, who responded, “It sounds like something you need to figure out between yourselves.” Coombs then asked Tony Alessi if he was going to press charges or not, at which time Tony Alessi stated, “you have kids, Davey, how would you like them to be assaulted?” When it became obvious that Alessi was not going to place charges, and Coombs started to leave, Alessi said, “Another place, another place – you’ll get yours.” Coombs returned to his vehicle and left. No charges were filed. The conversation was overheard by former professional racer Lance Smail, who happened to be at the pit entrance at the time.
Contrary to Jeff Alessi’s claims, the laser confiscated from him is in working order. It was a powerful green laser pointer torch, capable of reaching considerable distance.
Jeff Alessi does not currently hold an AMA Pro Racing Motocross License, but has held one in the past.
The actions of Jeff Alessi were not only misguided and egregious, but potentially endangered the welfare and safety of riders and spectators in general.
Such conduct is deemed detrimental to the sport of motorcycle racing and thereby subject to disciplinary action, pursuant to Appendix A of the 2013 AMA Pro Racing Motocross Rule Book.
As a team crew member, Jeff Alessi was a ‘participant’, and thereby subject to the AMA Pro Racing Motocross Rule Book.
Accordingly, Jeff Alessi’s eligibility to obtain an AMA Pro Racing Motocross License or MX Sports Pro Racing credential is suspended indefinitely.
a. Various eyewitness accounts
b. Photo of official walking away from Alessi after confiscating laser and credential
c. Photo of Alessi verbally confronting official
d. Photo taken from over the shoulder of Malcolm Stewart showing a suspect holding laser light at start of moto. Stewart identified person as a man in MCR attire
e. Photo of MCR pit area and crew members depicting green laser in rig
f. Go Pro video from Ryan Villopoto
[Additional sections, having to do with credential violations and public arguments, are not printed here]
Mike Alessi, MCR 450 Pro Rider
(1) On July 20, 2013, Team MotoConcepts crew member Jeff Alessi engaged in misbehavior and/or egregious conduct potentially endangering the welfare and safety of racers Ryan Villopoto and Malcolm Stewart by pointing a laser light directly at their eyes at the start of the first moto of the 450 class at the Washougal National.
Determination: Appendix A of the AMA Pro Racing Rule Book provides that AMA Pro Racing licensed entrants and riders may be held responsible for the actions of their crew members. Mike Alessi is an AMA Pro Racing licensed rider and was an entrant in the 450 class in the Washougal National for Team MotoConcepts.
Although there is no evidence that Mike Alessi was involved directly or indirectly in any acts of misconduct, as an AMA Pro Racing professional licensed racer, he is responsible for the conduct of his crew, which conduct in this case is deemed detrimental to the sport of motorcycle racing and thereby subject to disciplinary action, pursuant to Appendix A of the 2013 AMA Pro Racing Motocross Rule Book.
Accordingly, Mike Alessi is hereby held responsible for the actions of his crew members, and is fined $10,000, which fine must be paid prior to participating in further competition or adequate arrangements made for the payment thereof. In addition, all points earned by Mike Alessi at the Washougal National are suspended. Said fine shall be paid to the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit.