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Fireworks, Gun Bust in Syosset: Nassau Cops Say They Found More Than 200 Pounds of Explosives, Cache of Firearms in Home

June 30, 2006

By Michael Frazier, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.

Jun. 30–A Syosset man was arrested yesterday after police found several hundred pounds of illegal fireworks crammed into the attic of his home, authorities said.

Nassau police began investigating the home of Abraham Finkler, 24, after receiving a tip he was selling fireworks at his house at 142 Southwood Circle, police spokesman Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said.

When officers raided the home, they found more than 200 pounds of fireworks and a cache of long-barrel firearms, Smith said. Police said they also found 10 pounds of marijuana in the house but have not yet charged Finkler with drug possession.

Finkler’s 16-month-old baby slept in a room just below the fireworks and near where the guns were stored, police said.

“This child was placed in a room sandwiched by two rooms that had weapons and right below a place crammed with fireworks,” Smith said.

Finkler was arrested on charges of failing to have a proper license and certificate for storage, possession of commercial-grade explosives and improper storage of explosives and fourth-degree possession of a dangerous weapon, all felonies, police said.

He also faces misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and dealing with fireworks.

Finkler’s wife, Corrine Martinez, 27, who wasn’t at home during the raid, was arrested on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child, but she was later released without bail, police said.

The couple’s child was with the mother.

Police said the investigation was preliminary, but they said Finkler’s house was under surveillance for some time after they received the tip.

Investigators learned Finkler picked up large quantities of fireworks in Pennsylvania and sold them from his home. He stored them in the attic, which police measured as having a temperature of 100 degrees, police said.

“The heat in the attic could have ignited the fireworks and blew the roof of the house off,” Smith said.

Fireworks – from sparklers to cherry bombs – are illegal in New York State. New York is joined by Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island in outlawing fireworks unless used with a special permit.

In New York City and Long Island, authorities are on the lookout for fireworks violations. On Wednesday, Suffolk County police arrested a Ridge woman after discovering an estimated 350 cases of assorted fireworks on her property worth $100,000.

The New York Police Department’s vice squad, which helps keep illegal fireworks off the streets, has made 147 fireworks possession arrests between Jan. 1 and June 20.

While authorities seek to seize illegal fireworks, fire officials note that each year, dozens of injuries occur on July Fourth alone.

“Even sparklers burn at very, very high temperatures, up to 1,000 degrees, and are very dangerous for children,” said Vincent McManus, division supervisor of the Nassau County fire marshal’s office.

What makes them illegal

Under New York State law, fireworks or dangerous fireworks are defined as any blank cartridge, blank cartridge pistol or toy cannon in which explosives are used. Sparklers, roman candles, bombs and skyrockets are examples.

The law states: Any person who shall offer or expose for sale, sell or furnish, any fireworks or dangerous fireworks is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. According to the law, anyone who sells or provides fireworks valued at $500 will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. All misdemeanors are punishable by fines and up to 1 year in prison.

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Copyright (c) 2006, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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