Last of four sentences handed down in Niles underground fireworks operation

Local News

More than 900 homemade explosive devices and over a dozen illegally-owned firearms were seized during the investigation

Donald Phillips, charged with selling explosives in Trumbull County.

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Four Trumbull County men convicted in an underground fireworks operation in Niles have been sentenced in court.

Monday, Donald Paul Phillips, 28, of Mineral Ridge, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for two counts relating to the illegal manufacture and distribution of explosives, and one count of possessing firearms after a domestic violence conviction. 

Three others have also been sentenced for their part in the crime.

Zachary Booth, 30, of Warren, was sentenced to three years of supervised probation for one count of distributing explosives without an ATF license. Booth pleaded guilty to distributing explosives in September.

Donald Roger Phillips, 50, of Mineral Ridge, was sentenced to five months of home detention, three years of probation and a $1,000 fine for one count of possessing a firearm after a domestic violence conviction.

Andrew Syacsure, 31, of Niles, was sentenced to four months of home detention and three years of probation for one count of conspiring to manufacture and distribute explosives. 

According to court records, ATF agents learned that Booth was selling homemade explosive devices in Trumbull County in early 2019.

Undercover investigators found the operation, which was being run out of Syacsure’s basement in Niles.

Court records state that the agents bought 11 explosive devices from Booth, which they said were similar to M-80 fireworks. Records said the explosives contained hundreds of times more flash powder than consumer ground fireworks.

According to records, they found out that Booth obtained the explosives from Donald Paul Phillips.

Donald Paul Phillips was arrested in May of 2019 after an undercover agent made multiple purchases from him outside his workplace. During a search of his home, investigators found over a dozen firearms and more than 500 homemade explosives in the breezeway.

Investigators also found a loaded shotgun in the closet of his father, Donald Roger Phillips, who also lived in the home and was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

While searching, Syacsure’s home, investigators found evidence of explosive manufacturing.

More than 900 homemade explosive devices and over a dozen illegally-owned firearms were seized during the investigation.

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