What initially struck us about the downfall of Kentucky fireworks dealer Sam Droganes was the Greek-tragedy element to the tale. To hear Droganes tell it, this was a classic tale of hubris gone amok—the man desperately wanted to be the biggest fireworks tycoon in the Bluegrass State, and that ambition led him to make some shady deals involving far-too-powerful explosives.
Upon further inspection, however, what really wows us about Droganes’s case is the fate of his former stock, all of which was seized in a 2007 raid:
In all, agents confiscated 1 million pounds of fireworks. They’re being stored in bunkers at a former ammunition plant in Nebraska at a cost to the government of $87,500 a month, McClure said. The government has acknowledged that some of the fireworks are legal, and Droganes has asked for their return. Another attorney, Gary Sergent of O’Hara, Ruberg, Taylor, Sloan & Sergent, claimed in court papers that the legal fireworks are valued at $3 million.
As we understand it, Droganes’s claim here is solid, given that the government has openly acknowledged that some of the cache is legal. So, whose job will it be to sift through 1 million pounds of fireworks in order to separate the legal from the illegal? And how much will that add to the $1.84 million tab that the government has already paid simply to store the evidence?
The obvious solution would be to make a trade with Droganes: Suspend his sentence, in exchange for his consent to give Nebraska the biggest fireworks show in history. But we get the feeling that such a logical conclusion isn’t in the cards.
(Image via the Marshall Space Flight Center History Office)