From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore:
A federal grand jury has indicted Dennis Coster, age 57, of White Hall, Maryland, and the company he operated, Fireworks Productions, Inc. for conspiracy to deal in explosive materials and to create a false entry in a required record, submitting false documents, and obstruction of an agency proceeding. Additionally, the United States is seeking forfeiture of at least $790,000 in assets belonging to Dennis Coster and Fireworks Productions, Inc., which represents the proceeds of the conspiracy charged in the indictment.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Attorney General Tony West; Special Agent in Charge Joseph Riehl of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Baltimore Field Division; and Chairman Inez Tenenbaum of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
According to the seven count indictment, in order to increase their profits, Dennis Coster and Fireworks Productions, Inc. sold display fireworks to individuals who were not licensed to purchase them, and who then illegally resold the fireworks. The indictment also states that in an effort to conceal the scheme of diverting and reselling the display fireworks, Dennis Coster and Fireworks Productions, Inc. created inflated invoices and fake licenses, and falsified other documents to make it appear that significantly larger fireworks shows occurred than were actually performed.
Display fireworks are the large fireworks that are intended to be used in shows, under the supervision of a trained pyrotechnician. Due to the danger presented by these explosives, federal law requires that any person dealing in display fireworks must first obtain a federal explosives license or permit from ATF. The latest report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that there were reports of seven fireworks-related deaths and an estimated 7,000 hospital emergency room treated injuries in 2008.
The defendants face a maximum of 10 years in prison for conspiracy to deal in explosive materials and to create a false entry in a required record, and a maximum of five years in prison for submitting false documents and obstruction of an agency proceeding.
Dennis Coster and Fireworks Productions, Inc. will have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, although no date has been scheduled yet.
Today’s charges are the result of a joint investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jessica Gunder and Marietta Geckos from the Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Litigation.