Pennsylvania Business Paying $200K For Not Reporting Stolen Fireworks

A 124-year-old Pennsylvania fireworks business will pay a $200,000 penalty after pleading guilty to failing to report more than 63,000 fireworks that were stolen nearly three years ago.

Zambelli International Fireworks in January announced it had agreed to the penalty, which was imposed Monday by a federal judge under an agreement with federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The company also agreed to curtail its commercial operations for two weeks, which happened earlier this month. During that time, the company didn't buy, sell or ship any fireworks, although workers remained on the job to maintain the business and perform other duties.

The penalties include a $5,000 fine, which goes to the federal treasury, and a $195,000 administrative forfeiture, money that goes to the ATF.

Barry Hartman, one of the company's attorneys, pleaded guilty Monday to failing to report the loss of explosive material. The law requires fireworks dealers licensed by the ATF to report missing or stolen explosives within 24 hours.

The commercial-grade display fireworks were stolen sometime between July 21 and Aug. 4 in 2014 but not discovered until later that year. Pennsylvania state troopers found them in the home of a Zambelli employee, who has since been fired, during an unrelated criminal investigation.

Hartman and Mark Rush, the company's other attorney, said they had no additional information about how the fireworks were discovered.

The law Zambelli violated is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $200,000 fine and five years' probation.

U.S. District Judge David Cercone did not impose any probation under the plea agreement.

The company has since worked with the ATF to improve its inventory and security systems.

Antonio Zambelli founded the family-owned business in 1893 after emigrating from Italy. The company, based in New Castle, about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, produces about 1,600 shows annually. Its fireworks have been used for presidential inaugurations, the National Mall Fourth of July celebration and state dinners. They're a staple of shows in and around western Pennsylvania, and at PNC Park for Pittsburgh Pirates games.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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