Youngstown man pleads guilty to role in decade-old McDonald’s fraud

Staff report


A Youngstown man pleaded guilty Monday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to charges connected to a credit-card scheme 10 years ago involving the Liberty Township McDonald’s restaurant.

Terrance T. Phillips, 31, of West Boston Avenue, pleaded guilty to grand theft, identity fraud and possession of criminal tools. He will be sentenced in about a month, after the Trumbull County Adult Probation Department conducts a background check.

Phillips was 21 and living on Mary Knoll Avenue in Campbell when he was charged with misuse of credit cards and fraud in the case. He was secretly indicted on six charges in 2010, but he was not arrested on the charges until 2017, said Chuck Morrow, assistant Trumbull County prosecutor.

His first hearing in common pleas court was May 8, 2017.

In a 2008 Vindicator article, then-Liberty Police Chief Rich Tisone said the scheme involved a Canfield woman who worked at the restaurant.

She would accept a restaurant customer’s credit card and copy personal information onto a hand-held reader device.

The others involved in the enterprise would make duplicate credit cards with the information and go on expensive shopping excursions.

The woman was convicted in 2011 for her role in the crimes and was sentenced to probation.

His attorney tried to have the charges dismissed in May 2017 on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired by more than two years by the time he was arraigned.

Atty. James Lanso pointed out that Phillips appeared in Girard Municipal Court on unrelated charges in 2013, 2014 and 2016 and was placed in the Trumbull County jail on that charge for a few weeks as well.

Lanso argued that the fraud charges should be dismissed because officials failed to “exercise reasonable diligence” to arrest him on the fraud charges.

Judge Peter Kontos never ruled on that motion.

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