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Press Release

Indiana man charged with illegally selling fireworks in Ohio

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio
Fourth of July fireworks death prompted investigation

CINCINNATI – A federal grand jury has charged Paul Eberhard, 64, of Shelbyville, Indiana, with crimes related to illegally dealing in fireworks.


The investigation began after the July 4, 2020, death of a Mt. Healthy man. According to reports, the man died after being struck in the head by a fireworks explosive. The Hamilton County Bomb Squad confiscated fireworks from the scene.


According to the indictment, between 2018 and 2020, Eberhard illegally sold display fireworks. He is charged with two federal crimes: dealing in explosive materials without a license and distributing explosive materials to a person without a permit or license. Each crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.


Display fireworks are large fireworks designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration or detonation. Display fireworks contain more than 50 milligrams of flash powder for ground devices, and more than 130 milligrams of flash powder for aerial explosives. Under federal law, a person must have an ATF license or permit to receive or use display fireworks. Individuals with only a permit, like Eberhard, are prohibited from selling or distributing display fireworks.


Eberhard’s case was unsealed this afternoon during his initial appearance in federal court.


Vipal J. Patel, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Roland Herndon, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), announced the charges and commended the work of the Mount Healthy, North College Hill and Shelbyville police departments, the sheriff’s office bomb squads from Hamilton and Butler counties, and the Hamilton County Coroner. Assistant United States Attorney Megan Gaffney Painter is representing the United States in this case.


An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.


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Updated May 27, 2021