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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Maryland

For Immediate Release

February 28, 2011

Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney

Contact: Vickie LeDuc
(410) 209-4885

White Hall, Maryland Resident and Company Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Illegally Distribute Explosive Materials

Baltimore, Maryland – Dennis Coster, age 58, of White Hall, Maryland, and the company he operated, Fireworks Productions, Inc., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to deal in xplosive materials and to create a false entry in a required record.

The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Attorney General Tony West; Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop 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 statement of facts, from January 2000 through July 2005, in order to increase their profits, Dennis Coster and Fireworks Productions, Inc. sold display fireworks to an individual who was not licensed to purchase them, and who then illegally resold the fireworks.

In an effort to conceal the scheme of diverting and reselling the display fireworks, Dennis Coster and Fireworks Productions, Inc. admitted that they created invoices that underrepresented the quantity of display fireworks that were actually sold to the co-conspirator to conceal the diversion of explosive materials and to prevent ATF from discovering the diversion. These invoices were then maintained in Fireworks Productions, Inc.’s files.

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.

Coster faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for conspiracy to deal in explosive materials and to create a false entry in a required record. As part of his plea agreement, Coster has agreed to forfeit three bank accounts which will partially satisfy a forfeiture order of $437,000, the value of the proceeds of the offense. The company has agreed to pay a $65,000 criminal fine. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis has scheduled sentencing for June 20, 2011, at 10:30 a.m.

Today’s guilty pleas are the result of a joint investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jessica Gunder and Richard Goldberg from the Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Litigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Budlow.