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PA FLORIDA FIREWORKS BLAZE LEADS TO GUILTY PLEAS

Release Date: 10/31/97
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1997

FLORIDA FIREWORKS BLAZE LEADS TO GUILTY PLEAS

On Oct. 22, Neptune Fireworks Inc., of Dania, Fla.; Neptune’s president Itzhak Dickstein; its former vice-president for operations, Leslie Grimes; and Neptune’s warehouse manager, Mark Williams, all pleaded guilty to federal charges that resulted from a fire caused by the illegal disposal of hazardous fireworks waste in the first hazardous waste case brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. The defendants admitted to causing the Feb. 17 fire at the V. Ponte & Sons recycling facility in Pembroke Park, Fla. by illegally concealing thousands of pounds of damaged and otherwise unsaleable fireworks in 12 cardboard bales after the fireworks had been soaked in water. One of the bales ignited and started a blaze that took six hours to bring under control. Neptune agreed to pay fines and restitution totalling $500,000. Dickstein, Grimes and Williams all pleaded guilty to one count of illegal treatment of a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. All of the individual defendants face a maximum of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center.



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