Two Pa. Men Have Admitted Making, Selling IEDs

Ryan Hribick, formerly of Coatesville, is latest to plead guilty.

Istvan Merchenthaler in police photo. Ryan Hribick photo unavailable.

Istvan Merchenthaler in a police photo. Ryan Hribick photo unavailable.

The United States Attorney in Philadelphia has announced that 34-year-old Ryan Joseph Hribick, formerly of Coatesville, has pleaded guilty to manufacturing and selling improvised explosive devices aka IEDs between 2009 and 2013. Hribick, now of Minersville in Schuylkill County, is the second man to plead guilty in the scheme, with Istvan “Steve” A. Merchenthaler (above) having pleaded guilty to similar charges last year.

According to prosecutors, Hribick fashioned IEDs out of PVC pipes and cardboard tubes, filling them with nails, screws and rocks, and then he sold them, though investigators haven’t said who the buyers were.

He also told a witness to lie to a grand jury that was investigating the case. Hribick was charged with one count of possessing unregistered guns, one count of manufacturing and dealing explosive materials, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, and one count of witness tampering, all of which were covered by Monday’s guilty plea.

Both Hribick and Merchenthaler were indicted early in 2014 after authorities found nearly 60 PVC bombs and 400 cardboard IEDs in a unit at Malvern Public Storage in East Whiteland Township, Chester County. The search of the locker stemmed from an incident in which Merchenthaler attempted to elude police during a traffic stop while he was awaiting trial for separate crimes involving a $2 million Ponzi scheme. Merchenthaler, a Hungarian native who has used the aliases Atilla Mergenthaler, Adien A. Donis, and Joey Gallow, was accused of swindling more than $2 million from over 200 investors. His 2014 guilty plea included wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and weapons and explosives charges.

Hribick is scheduled to be sentenced in Philadelphia in July. The maximum sentence for his crimes would include 60 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Merchenthaler is to be sentenced on April 27th. He faces a maximum of 230 years in prison and a fine up to $5.5 million.

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