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Former Jefferson County fireworks manufacturing company NEXT F/X, Incorporated pleads guilty to illegal transportation of hazardous materials

May 14, 2004

For Immediate Release



FORMER JEFFERSON COUNTY FIREWORKS MANUFACTURING COMPANY NEXT F/X, INCORPORATED PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGAL TRANSPORTATION OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS





St. Louis, Missouri: A former Jefferson County fireworks manufacturing company, now located in Columbus, Montana pled guilty this afternoon to charges of illegal transportation of hazardous materials, United States Attorney Ray Gruender announced today.



This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Transportation-Office of Inspector General and the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office, Fire Investigation Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Flachs and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Reap are handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.



NEXT FX, INCORPORATED, Columbus, Montana pled guilty to one felony count of transporting hazardous materials. Attorney Barry Short appeared as a representative for Next FX, Incorporated before United States District Judge Donald J. Stohr.



Next FX, Inc. faces a fine of $10,000. Sentencing has been set for Friday, July 30, 2004 at 11:00 a.m.



According to the facts filed with the court, on April 23, 2001, Next F/X, Incorporated shipped improperly marked hazardous materials called a "concussion," from Dittmer, Missouri to Manchester, Tennessee via Federal Express Ground Delivery.



Co-defendant RUSSELL R. NICKEL, 39, Columbus, Montana, awaits trial, which is set for Monday May 17, 2004. Co-defendants RONALD ROBERT WALKER, 41, and his wife, KIM JOAN WALKER, 39, both now residing in Columbus, Montana pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to illegally transport hazardous wastes and illegal storage of explosives earlier this week and await sentencing, which is scheduled for July 30, 2004.



The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations, and defendant Nickel is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.