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A White Hall man pleaded guilty in federal court in Baltimore Monday to charges of conspiracy to deal in explosive materials and to create a false entry in a required record, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Dennis Coster, 58, and the company he operated, Fireworks Productions Inc., were both parties to the case, according to prosecutors.

Coster and his company have done public fireworks displays in Harford County, most prominently the Havre de Grace New Year’s Eve Duck Drop in 2008, 2009 and earlier years, according to past articles published in The Record.

According to the statement of facts presented in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, 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 they created invoices that under represented 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, according to the statement of facts. 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, according to prosecutors, who said that because of 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.

According to prosecutors, 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 at 10:30 a.m.

Coster and his company were indicted last June. At that time, prosecutors sought the forfeiture of more than $790,000 in assets from the defendants.


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