Federal judge to accept guilty pleas in Niles underground fireworks case

Local News

Two final defendants in the case are set to enter guilty pleas

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Four men charged in running an underground fireworks operation out of Niles are entering into plea agreements with prosecutors.

Of the four charged, Andrew Syacsure pleaded guilty to manufacturing and distributing explosives, and Zachary Booth pleaded guilty to distributing explosives. Syacsure will be sentenced in October. Booth will be sentenced in November.

Donald Paul Phillips and Donald Roger Phillips have filed paperwork to enter guilty pleas in the case.

Donald Paul Phillips was charged with three counts of manufacturing and distributing explosives, along with a firearms charge. Donald Roger Phillips is charged with possession of a firearm by a person convicted of domestic violence.

According to the indictment, federal agents began conducting undercover buys in February 2019 of the explosives.

Agents first met with Syacsure who showed them a video of a barbecue grill getting blown up to enhance the sell, according to the indictment.

After Syacsure went out of town, agents got in contact with Donald Pual Phillips and arranged several buys between March and April. During those conversations, Phillips told agents he was giving them the “big ones” and some were the “biggest I got,” according to the indictment.

Agents say Phillips and Syacsure made the explosives with ingredients bought online in Syacsure’s basement at his home in Niles.

Most of the buys took place in the parking lot of Phillips’ place of employment at Berena’s Automotive Center on Robbins Avenue.

Editor’s note: At the time of this report, booking photos were not available for all suspects listed in the report.

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