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Morning Star

Faloon Enters Into Plea Agreement on Pyrotechnic Case

MILLINOCKET -- Peter Faloon, a Schenck High School teacher charges with failure to obtain a permit to use a pyrotechnic device, a Class D felony, entered into a plea agreement in Millinocket District Court, June 18th.

The device was used during a Schenck High School May 2nd production of Annie Get Your Gun, in which a homemade device, powered by smokeless gunpowder, was used to throw popcorn.

“This was an illegal display of fireworks at the school play,” said the Penobscot County District  Attorney.

In court on June 18, Faloon entered into a plea agreement in which he took responsibility for making and using the device, and spoke of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Faloon said that students in the play were disappointed with a prop of balloons that had been used during earlier performances of the play, saying that the balloon prop, that was supposed to sound like a gun firing, failed and the students complained, prompting his assembly of the smokeless powder device for which he was charged.

Faloon said that he spent five hours working on the device, and tested it several times to make sure that it was safe.

When tested, the device would cause popcorn to fly about 3-4 feet across the stage to cause the desired visual effect.

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While accepting responsibility, Faloon insisted that the device was safe.

“My own two children were in the play,” said Faloon. “I would die before I would put them in danger,” he added. “I do apologize. I realize that I made a mistake.”

Faloon explained to the judge that he had cooperated fully with the fire marshal’s office, and was concerned that the incident had hurt his reputation as a teacher.

Faloon was recently laid off from his position with Schenck High School, reportedly in an effort to downsize the educational staff due to decreasing enrollment, but Faloon indicated that the charges filed against him may have played a part in the decision not to rehire him for the 2003-2004 school year.

The District Attorney, R. Christopher Almy, told the court that the DA’s office and Faloon’s attorney had reached an agreement on the case.

Based on the defendant’s willingness to accept responsibility, Almy requested that the offense be reduced to a civil violation.

Judge Stitham agreed to the request, reducing the charge.

Faloon pled to the lesser charge, and was ordered to pay a $50 fine, $250 restitution to the fire marshal’s office, and court costs.

-- Ken Anderson 06/25/03