Suspended sentence granted to man who made fireworks Westminster resident placed on probation

October 27, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Westminster man, whose hobby was making homemade fireworks, was given an 18-month suspended sentence yesterday after he pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment and possession of destructive devices.

The man, 42, is not being named to protect the privacy of his 17-year-old son, who was arrested in March after authorities found four homemade explosive devices at Bennett Cerf Park in Westminster.

Explosives experts from the state fire marshal's office detonated two devices and disarmed the other two, authorities said.

Prosecutor Clarence W. Beall III said the boy told police his father kept a number of explosive devices at home. The father was arrested later in March after police obtained a search warrant and raided the man's home.

Beall said more than 50 explosive devices, about 12 pounds of explosive powder and a number of "how-to books," which provided details on constructing bombs and explosive devices, were found at the home.

Daniel J. Bartolini, a Sykesville attorney representing the man, told Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold that his client was a gentle, church-going businessman who never intended to hurt anyone.

"Making these devices was his hobby, albeit illegal," Bartolini said. "His son rebelled against discipline [at home] and set him up."

Beall told Arnold that fire marshals reported finding no shrapnel, bits of metal or glass in any of the explosive devices found in the park or in the man's home.

"They essentially were large firecrackers, explosive powder in plastic pipes," Beall said.

According to the plea agreement, the man did not contest Beall's version of what happened. He also was placed on three

years' probation. After one year, he may ask the court to strike the guilty verdict and grant probation before judgment to clear his criminal record. The man's son was found guilty of auto theft in July. He was sentenced to the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, a facility in Baltimore County for juvenile offenders, Bartolini said.

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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