SAVANNAH, Ga. — A special effects worker faces up to 10 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to illegally possessing explosives while working on the Georgia set of a movie starring John Travolta and Morgan Freeman.
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Robert Christopher Bailey, 50, of Los Angeles entered his plea Tuesday before a U.S. District Court judge in Savannah, according to court records. Federal authorities charged him in coastal Georgia last year during filming of “The Poison Rose.”
Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms questioned Bailey after receiving complaints from the movie set, according to court documents. Prosecutors said Bailey told the agents he was handling and making explosives without a required license. He told them he had been denied a license because of a prior felony conviction for forgery in California.
A court filing by federal prosecutors said ATF agents interviewed Bailey on July 9, 2018, after receiving a complaint that “actor John Travolta was hit with sparks and treated for a minor injury during a mishap with special effects on the movie set.”
No other details about the incident that injured Travolta were given. Bailey was never charged with injuring the actor or anyone else.
An ATF spokesman in Atlanta did not immediately return a phone message Thursday. A publicist for Travolta did not immediately return phone and email messages.
The judge scheduled Bailey for sentencing on April 9. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop two other criminal counts against him.
A total of 399 film and TV productions were shot in Georgia during the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The state agency credited those productions with bringing $2.9 billion in direct spending.
"The state of Georgia, particularly Savannah, has a tremendous history and relationship with the motion picture industry,” U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine of the Southern District of Georgia said in a news release. “Accordingly, we take very seriously our obligations to uphold the law and to preserve the safety of our citizens and those working in our state.”