A Belton man pleaded guilty Friday to operating an illegal fireworks business that sparked a massive explosion in Grandview last year.
Thomas KcKeehan, 67, admitted that he conspired with the owner of a Grandview business to illegally manufacture and market illegal explosive devices without a license.
Their operation literally blew up on Jan. 3, 2017, when JW’s Lawn and Garden Equipment at 12010 South U.S. 71 was demolished by a thunderous explosion.
After an investigation, McKeehan and James Witt, owner of the business, were indicted on federal charges.
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Prosecutors said that the business was used as a place to manufacture illegal devices, including M-80 and M-100 explosives. They allegedly manufactured the explosive devices by buying bulk supplies of chemicals and then combining them to produce the illegal explosive devices.
They men also bought and sold commercial fireworks without a license.
According to McKeehan’s plea agreement, after the explosion he and Witt emptied a Belton storage locker and loaded the explosives into a van.
They planned to sell the explosives to a person in Wisconsin. The van contained several thousand commercially packaged aerial shells and more than 17,000 M-80s and M-100s, according to the agreement.
Witt, 76, pleaded guilty in December to the same charge and is awaiting sentencing.