Federal charges to be dropped against Byron pyrotechnics company

A federal judge has agreed to dismiss an indictment against Byron-based Pyrotechnic Specialties, its chief executive officer and several employees accused of multiple charges of conspiracy, money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the government.

This past April, investigators alleged that Pyrotechnic Specialties had relabeled flash-bang grenades that were faulty, claiming that they met military standards. The case had been set to go to trial next week.

According to court documents, however, federal prosecutors moved during a pretrial conference Friday that the case be dismissed, and U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal agreed.

No order for dismissal has been filed, but a “minute entry” from the conference filed Monday afternoon indicated that a ruling from Royal is forthcoming. The entry recounting Friday’s proceedings states that an assistant U.S. attorney “moves for dismissal of the indictment without prejudice. Court concurs.” A finding “without prejudice” would allow the issues resulting in such disposition to be raised again in the future.

“We are very happy with the way the hearing went on Friday,” said Pyrotechnic CEO David J. Karlson. “I will have more to say when the judge issues the ruling.”

U.S. Attorney Max Wood declined to comment Monday evening, saying “there has been no order issued in the case.” Named as defendants in the indictment were the company; Karlson, of Juliette; sales representative F. Brad Swann of Macon; production manager Daniel Ramon of Yatesville; and engineering technician Glen D. Cundiff of Crane, Ind. The company manufactured the MK141 Mod 0 Diversionary Charge, a flash-bang grenade designed by the Navy to be used as a means for the user to cause sensory confusion using light and a loud noise.

According to the initial indictment, Pyrotechnic Specialties had a $15 million contract with the Department of Defense. The company also manufactured a similar device for law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, which entered into an exclusive contract with Pyrotechnic Specialties between 2000 and 2005, according to the indictment.

In 2004, three Philadelphia-based FBI agents were injured when one of the devices went off prematurely while an agent carried it in his vest, the indictment stated.

The agents sustained burns and hearing loss as a result, an FBI spokesperson said. In November, a new indictment added environmental charges against the company, accusing it of storing and detonating devices that didn’t pass inspection tests against both federal and state regulations even though the devices are classified as hazardous waste.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.