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Owner of ordnance disposal firm pleads not guilty on blast charges

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 12:04 p.m. HST, Oct 4, 2012

The boss of the five men killed in the fireworks explosion at a Waikele storage facility last year pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court this morning to charges that he had his employees dismantling fireworks without a permit.

Donaldson Enterprises owner Charles Donaldson pleaded not guilty to one conspiracy charge and 20 counts of having his employees treat hazardous waste without a permit.

Company project manager Carlton Finley pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

Donaldson’s lawyer, Thomas Otake, pleaded not guilty on behalf of the fireworks and explosives disposal company.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi scheduled trial for December.

He said Donaldson and Finley could each remain free on $100,000 unsecured, signature bond and could travel to Guam and communicate with each other for work.

Otake told Puglisi that Donaldson Enterprises has a contract with the Navy for a job on Guam on which Donaldson and Finley will be working.

Bryan Cabalce, Robert Kevin Freeman, Justin Joseph Kelii, Robert Leahey and Neil Benjamin Sprankle died Apr. 8 last year in a fireworks explosion at the company’s rented storage bunker in Waikele. 

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