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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Ohio
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Illegally Selling Fireworks in Ohio

Fourth of July Fireworks Death Prompted Investigation

CINCINNATI – An Indiana man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court here today to distributing explosive materials to a person without a permit or license.

A federal grand jury charged Paul Eberhard, 66, of Shelbyville, Indiana, in May 2021.

The investigation began after the July 4, 2020, death of a Mt. Healthy man. According to reports, the man died after being struck in the head by a display firework that he had purchased from Eberhard.

According to his plea documents, Eberhard admitted that he illegally sold display fireworks in 2020.

Display fireworks are large fireworks designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration or detonation. Display fireworks contain more than 50 milligrams of flash powder for ground devices, and more than 130 milligrams of flash powder for aerial explosives. Under federal law, a person must have an ATF license or permit to receive or use display fireworks.

Eberhard had an ATF explosive permit. As part of maintaining his permit from 2008 until 2021, Eberhard repeatedly acknowledged that it was illegal for him to distribute explosive materials to anyone who is not an ATF explosives licensee or permittee. Despite this, Eberhard sold display fireworks to the man who died, who was neither an ATF explosives licensee or permittee.

Distributing explosive materials to a person without a permit or license is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Daryl S. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), announced the plea entered today before U.S. District Judge Matthew W. McFarland.

U.S. Attorney Parker and Special Agent in Charge McCormick commended the work of the Mount Healthy, North College Hill and Shelbyville police departments, the sheriff’s office bomb squads from Hamilton and Butler counties, and the Hamilton County Coroner.

Assistant United States Attorney Megan Gaffney Painter is representing the United States in this case.

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