Mechanicsville Man Charged With Possession of Illegal Fireworks

By Andrea Shiell, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (July 10, 2008)—Bomb Technicians with the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Bomb Squad charged a St. Mary’s County man with possession of fireworks with the intent to discharge this weekend.

The charge stemmed from a large stash of fireworks confiscated June 28, found on a barge anchored in the Patuxent River, not far from the community known as Patuxent View in Prince Frederick.

Investigators discovered $10,000 worth of fireworks purchased from various locations in the Commonwealth of Virginia and belonging to Jack R. Beckwith, 58, of Mechanicsville. Beckwith did not have a permit for the display, and he was not a licensed shooter in the state of Maryland.

“Basically, they went and bought fireworks from out of state and they were going to set them off, but they got caught,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal Joseph G. Zurolo, explaining that Beckman was charged with both possession of fireworks without a permit and possession of fireworks with intent to discharge. Both charges are misdemeanors and carry fines of up to $250.

Investigators served a District Court Criminal Summons to Beckwith July 4, but a trial date has not yet been scheduled.

Maryland state regulations prohibit exploding devices.

“Anything that shoots up into the sky and explodes in the air is illegal,” explained Zurolo, adding that Beckwith’s boat had been filled to the brim with such aerial devices. “Everything he had was illegal in the state of Maryland,” he said. Most counties like St. Mary’s have ordinances protecting the use of ground based sparkling devices, snap & pops, gold sparklers, and other novelty items, but some counties have outlawed them entirely, including Howard, Hartford, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Baltimore City.

Beckwith’s possession charge tops the list of five criminal citations issued this year for fireworks violations in Southern Maryland. Zurolo said the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office typically issues between ten and twelve citations each year at this time, but enforcing county ordinances on fireworks is difficult

Despite the citations, this year’s Fourth of July weekend was quiet. The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office reported no fires, though Cindy Allen of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office said there was a modest increase in calls from residents complaining of noise or disturbances from fireworks.

“It was a little busy…we had some trespassing complaints, some fireworks complaints,” she said. “But it was a normal busy holiday weekend. Nothing major transpired.

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