Home NEWS Police/Fire Local Names Surface As Investigators Break Up Illegal Fireworks Ring

Local Names Surface As Investigators Break Up Illegal Fireworks Ring

Photo: CalFire

Seven people – one with connections to Walnut Creek and Lamorinda – have been arrested in connection with an illegal fireworks ring investigators called one of the biggest in the history of the state.

State and federal officers seized over 49,000 pounds of pyrotechnics stored in various locations across the Bay Area Thursday – with caches located and confiscated in Walnut Creek, Modesto, Salida, Hayward, Oakland and Copperopolis, according to a CalFire spokesman.

“In California, we have a zero tolerance for the use and sale of illegal fireworks,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE. “With the increase in large, devastating fires across the state, we cannot stand by and allow this type of activity to occur, threatening not only property and natural resources, but the lives of the citizens we protect.”

Among those arrested Thursday were husband and wife Jack and Tanya Schroll of Walnut Creek. A number of readers remembered Jack Schroll from their time in a Lamorinda high school during the 60s. Also taken into custody was Larry Lista of Salida, Michael Solorio of Modesto, Donal Cerasi of Copperopolis, Maria San of Salida and Leon Cerasi of Salida.

The seven face an array of felony and misdemeanor charges. They were booked into Calaveras County jail, according to state investigators, who said the seven were responsible for allegedly “illegally importing, transporting, storing, distributing and selling illegal and dangerous fireworks throughout California for more than 30 years.”

Cash, computers and other items were also seized by police. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the California Highway Patrol, Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office and Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office assisted Cal Fire as ten search warrants were served in Calaveras, Stanislaus, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties.


  1. Boy, we have lived for years with fireworks being shot off on the Marin coast, even with the best efforts of Marin Sheriff, private campground and beach owners. Scary stuff sometimes, since it’s usually summer when the semi-rural area is so dry. Also have childhood memories of an illegal fireworks factory blowing up in about 1955 in Portland Oregon Chinatown. My grandparents were Red Cross volunteers, and I remember hearing the phone ring, then they rushed out of the house to return at dawn dirty and tired. I went down and sat with them at the kitchen table, having watched a most amazing fireworks display from the dormer upstairs. My mom came down and couldn’t understand why we were all so whupped-she slept thru the whole thing!

    • Possibly! We shall see. We were within blocks of the Bayview Building explosion and fire that killed 9 people and leveled a square-block area in The City in 1986. Carted out the injured on the hood of the city desk car that day. Illegal fireworks factory in the cluster of live-work buildings. Still remember the sound of the explosion.

  2. Were there fireworks were “illegal” only in the sense that they CAN be sold in states where fireworks are legal (like Nevada), but just not in California? Or are these “illegal”
    in the sense that they were made in a make-shift factories and not in compliance with federal rules?

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