True stories of true convictions

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True stories of true convictions

Postby Birrofilo » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:27 pm

Hallo,
I was wondering if we could collect true stories of true convictions for home distilling for home consumption, in the various parts of the Western world.

I can begin with my little research about Italy.

From what I can find on the internet, the last case a person was put on trial in Italy was in 1996. A woman, Maria Anna Mayrhofer, from the province of Bolzano, was trialled for distilling at home, and after having been found with 8 litres of grappa at home.
The case was bounced to the Corte Costituzionale by the judge, who in his query sustained the reasons of the defendant quite sharply. The Corte Costituzionale did not give a virdict because the query was ambiguously formulated (the judge specified she had a rudimentary pot still, rudimentale alambicco, but the law does not mention pot stills and doesn't care about "rudimentary", so for what I gather the CC wanted to know whether the query had to do with distilling with rudimentary pot still, or distilling in general) and asked the query to be reformulated. In the meanwhile, the defendant made a plea deal and the case ended without a sentence about the constitutionality of the norm.

The case was never again put in front of the Corte Costituzionale, which leads me to believe that, since 1996, nobody was put on trial for home distilling for personal consumption in Italy, because the case would certainly been have brought in front of the CC.

I think the situation in Italy is representative of what happens in most of the Western world: even where it is formally illegal to distill, it is actually extremely unlikely, not to say practically impossible, to be brought in front of a judge for it, let alone being convicted.

I encourage the forum participants to collect in this thread real cases of real convictions in a tribunal. Whenever possible, references should be made (names, places, dates) so that the final outcome of the judicial procedure can be found - in the future, if the trial is still ongoing.

I think these information will help in separating places where distilling is actually "dangerous" from places where distilling is illegal only theoretically, but factually safe (without the need to be so "underground" and secretive about the hobby).

I would like here to be collected real cases of convictions, rather than bits of wisdom of the "don't tell don't sell" kind :ewink:
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby seamusm53 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:57 pm

Not to hijack this thread/question but it is not just a conviction that we should fear. Being arrested becomes part of a record which in this digital age is FOREVER (try to find a job with that on your resume). The cost of defending oneself could easily lead to bankruptcy and because most of us are in fact HOME distillers loss of our homes becomes a risk we assume with this hobby. Those costs aren't reimbursed if we are acquitted - and face it not all of us stand to be as lucky as OJ in his trial for murdering his wife. We simply musn't presume that history will stay on our side. And keep the risks not only at bay but somewhat unspoken as regards significant others.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby Kareltje » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:20 pm

Interesting question, Birrofilo.
At the moment I am reading a book about illegal distilling in my country. Rather badly written, but also rather interesting.

But as most of the members are living in the USoA I guess you will hardly get any answers.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby johnsparrow » Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:25 pm

Birrofilo wrote:Hallo,
I was wondering if we could collect true stories of true convictions for home distilling for home consumption, in the various parts of the Western world.

I can begin with my little research about Italy.

From what I can find on the internet, the last case a person was put on trial in Italy was in 1996. A woman, Maria Anna Mayrhofer, from the province of Bolzano, was trialled for distilling at home, and after having been found with 8 litres of grappa at home.
The case was bounced to the Corte Costituzionale by the judge, who in his query sustained the reasons of the defendant quite sharply. The Corte Costituzionale did not give a virdict because the query was ambiguously formulated (the judge specified she had a rudimentary pot still, rudimentale alambicco, but the law does not mention pot stills and doesn't care about "rudimentary", so for what I gather the CC wanted to know whether the query had to do with distilling with rudimentary pot still, or distilling in general) and asked the query to be reformulated. In the meanwhile, the defendant made a plea deal and the case ended without a sentence about the constitutionality of the norm.

The case was never again put in front of the Corte Costituzionale, which leads me to believe that, since 1996, nobody was put on trial for home distilling for personal consumption in Italy, because the case would certainly been have brought in front of the CC.

I think the situation in Italy is representative of what happens in most of the Western world: even where it is formally illegal to distill, it is actually extremely unlikely, not to say practically impossible, to be brought in front of a judge for it, let alone being convicted.

I encourage the forum participants to collect in this thread real cases of real convictions in a tribunal. Whenever possible, references should be made (names, places, dates) so that the final outcome of the judicial procedure can be found - in the future, if the trial is still ongoing.

I think these information will help in separating places where distilling is actually "dangerous" from places where distilling is illegal only theoretically, but factually safe (without the need to be so "underground" and secretive about the hobby).

I would like here to be collected real cases of convictions, rather than bits of wisdom of the "don't tell don't sell" kind :ewink:


Since 1996 home distilling has been legal in New Zealand. There are no statistics to suggest that anyone here has been injured or killed by way of home distilling. All of the evidence needed can be taken from this example.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby zapata » Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:56 pm

USA is definitely not safe, and conviction is indeed the least of your concerns. This link is about commercial shine, but illustrates something pretty clearly:
http://www.thefranklinnewspost.com/news ... f99bd.html
The Operation Lightning Strike investigation ran from 1997 to 1999 in Franklin, Pittsylvania and Craig counties. In all, 16 active stills were raided and 10,600 gallons of mash and more than 800 gallons of untaxed liquor were seized and destroyed. Twenty-nine people were convicted from the operation.

Also seized during the investigation was $210,000 in cash, 28 vehicles and 12 real estate properties valued at $820,000, Scott said.

"It was over a million dollars if you add all of that up," he said.

The real estate seizures alone are at a rate of over $1,000 per gallon seized. And asset forfeiture is NOT dependent on conviction!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEpZWGgJks

can't seem to get video to embed for some reason, anyway it's an entertaining bit on assett seizure by John Oliver. Like many of his rants, it's only entertaining in a shameful, sad way.

Anyway, A very quick googling gives me dozens of arrests in the last year. MOST are arrests with multiple charges, drugs, guns, violence etc. But not all, I found a few where people came under suspicion after calling police because they were victims of some crime and were eventually arrested themselves.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby Birrofilo » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:40 am

I assume this forum is read by many distillers all over the world.

Answsers so far are very interesting and led me to discover something very new and unsuspected, let's keep on thread by arranging the thread into two different branches, absit iniuria verbis: USA and free-world.

USA: The USA, it appears and I could not suspect it, are a medieval country where the Police can confiscate anything to you and you have to prove you did nothing wrong in order to have the confiscated good back. That pretty much rivals with Saudi Arabia's juridical thinking as far as civil rights are concerned, or with the Spanish Inquisition, but as I have hopes for Saudi Arabia, I also have hopes for the USA. Civil Forfeiture wasn't very high in the last electoral campaign, was it? Well if that existed in my Country (I'll never complain any more) I would consider it problem #1, #2, and #3 at the very least. (I thought we had a Mafia problem, but if the Mafia is the State itself, it's much worse).

As far as the USA are concerned, I would rephrase the thread as: true stories of true considerable Civil Forfeiture due to distilling for personal consumption. Please post here news that you read on newspapers of people actually losing a lot of money, or house or other property, due to illegal distilling for personal consumption. Let's count the cases. Let's go and see if they are "white flies", total abnormalities, or how substantial the risk is. Let's dig into it.

Also, maybe somebody can illustrate whether a personal insurance can help in the USA for the case of Civil Forfeiture: how much does it cost etc. That would be very interesting, I think, for our American buddies who might consider the cost of an insurance in light of the benefit of sleeping better at night. What a nightmare, overall. There must be a way out. I cannot believe a Western country in XXI century can be such a juridical horror story.

Finally, I wonder whether there are, in the USA, associations which defend people in those dire circumstances. That can be associations with a "civil rights" scope at large, or even "hobby distilling" associations devoted to pooling expenses to defend distillers for personal consumptions. Such associations could collect donations which would "insure" the rare convicted persons, and would probably much further the Cause of freedom of hobby distilling. This thread might help us to understand how rare is, in the USA, to suffer serious consequences for distillation as a hobby.

Until today I thought in the USA the situation was pretty much easy because, for what I know, one can ask a permit for fuel distilling, and that - in my uneducated opinion - would take away most of the risks for hobbyists.

Free-world: let's keep news flowing about not just real convictions, but also cases in which the "cost" associated with a trial was substantial. Let's actually dig into the real cases of real trouble because of distillation for personal consumption. In Europe overall I think judicial expenses would be relatively low (and easily coverable with any insurance) but maybe in other parts of the world, with a different judicial system, judicial expenses can be high (Canada, Australia, come to mind).

@zapata the first link is interesting but it seems to me it relates only to people who actually sell their illegal distillate: for instance a two-year operation had those results: "In all, 16 active stills were raided and 10,600 gallons of mash and more than 800 gallons of untaxed liquor were seized and destroyed. Twenty-nine people were convicted from the operation." I assume 16 stills in two years, with 10.600 gallons of product, must have been different cases than hobbyists.

I am interested only in cases of people convicted (in the US or elsewhere) for distilling for personal consumption.

I am interested in understanding how real is the risk for hobby distilling in other countries. I suspect the risk is more "perceived" than "real" also in the US, by the way, but I might be easily wrong. Let's talk about it, with real cases on the table.

That's curious because, as a counter-example, in Italy the risk is, maybe, higher than perceived, considering that many people (including many policemen, apparently) think that distilling for oneself is fully legal.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby Wild Bill » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:30 am

I had to take a friend, who got into this hobby with me, aside and tell him he needed to keep our endeavors on the down low. He had been flapping his gums to many of our acquaintances until I had a talk with him. He was under the impression it was totally legit for personal consumption. I think that is a fairly common misconception in the US as well.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby Beerbrewer » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:09 am

The UK picture seems to be focussed on those who make to sell (at massive quantities) as this story shows:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-14151509

I cannot find any examples of someone being convicted of making their own spirits for consumption in the UK, I'm guessing most coppers are not interested in prosecuting those who do not sell, they have bigger problems.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby Pikey » Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:59 am

Beerbrewer wrote:The UK picture seems to be focussed on those who make to sell (at massive quantities) as this story shows:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-14151509

I cannot find any examples of someone being convicted of making their own spirits for consumption in the UK, I'm guessing most coppers are not interested in prosecuting those who do not sell, they have bigger problems.


Yes I remember that explosion. In uk it is legal to make your own as long as you register with HMRC for tax. BUT the smallest still HMRC will consider is 400 Gallons (imperial), which makes it impossible in practical terms for us to register.

Airstills and T500s etc are on sale in every Home brew shop and Home beer making and home winemaking are legal too (No selling of course). So really I suppose the only real "Illegality" is in tax avoidance - but since all we do is make legal beer then take some water out......

I think as long as we don't sell (I don't even "give away" ) - then we are fairly safe from misunderstandings.

On another thread recently someone had asked the Dutch? authoorities about legalising and got the reply that it would not be possible under 'Elfansafety regs in place from the EU - So it seems to be a case of "We can't condone it in case there is an accident, but we're fairly comfortable with people doing it small scale for own consumption."

We're also allowed to make 2000 litres of biofuel per year - and I'm quite keen to get my mower running on it !

[Edit - "They" do get pretty pissed off if anyone is selling though ! - so DON'T (actually that's fair enough as far as I'm concerned) 8) ]
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby zapata » Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:10 pm

Birrofilo, I like the ideas you present, and it may well be useful for the free world. But the US really is different. I suspect most of the rest of the world knows us because of our status as military and economic hegemon. So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that domestically we are dominated by similar motifs. Instead of the military industrial complex, domestically we have the prison industrial complex. And while our military and economy can shape global behaviors, the business of law enforcement takes a parallel approach to citizens.

Aside from asset seizure there are several other problems in the barbaric USA.
Plea deals. Almost every person charged with a crime is offered a plea deal. Basically it goes like this. The prosecutor shakes you down, "Hey buddy, looks like you got in over your head, you're probably innocent, the law is probably absurd, but you're facing 10 years in the slammer if convicted of that felony. But I'm your friend so here's what I can do. If you wave your right to trial and plea guilty to this lesser crime, you don't have to take your chances that a judge or jury will convict you no matter your innocence. You do 6 months (or a year, and/or pay some fines) whatever and move on."

Very many people take these plea deals instead of gambling everything on a trial. For one, it avoids the 10s of thousands of dollars required for a decent trial attorney.

The problem with plea deals regarding this thread, is that they are very rarely reported in the media. They are of course for high profile crimes, but not run of the mill crimes. Local newspapers and tv news report almost every criminal arrest. They sometimes follow up with conviction and sentencing, and almost never for pleas.
The other problem is that pleas are at the discretion of the local prosecutor. Usually not even requiring the knowledge of a judge or jury, much less anyone's approval. Never mind that exact laws and potential sentencing for home distillers carries by state, most prosecutors work at the county level, that's about 3,000 jurisdictions. The prosecutor can be friendly and just say "this is dumb, you're not a gangster, plea to a city code violation (similar to not mowing your lawn, or playing loud music) and get out of here". Or they can just plea out the sentence, something like "ok, if you take your chances with a trial you might get 5 years, just plea guilty and agree to do a year". Its entirely up to the prosecutor and how they want to build their carreer as most prosecutors are looking to build a career pathway to a politician or judge or something, and pleas count as convictions for their resume.
90% + of all cases end in a plea deal.

Basically, for the USA I think its sufficient to say people are arrested for non-commercial distillation, and that is enough to ruin your day. Beyond that I have no idea how one would even begin to collect relevant stats. I do know the information simply never makes the news in any place I have lived.
Arrests are pretty easy to find:
https://m.facebook.com/pg/Pct1Constable ... 8425265350
http://amp.sunherald.com/news/local/cri ... 71659.html
http://www.kxii.com/content/news/Bryan- ... 28063.html
https://amp.pnj.com/amp/867878001
http://wlos.com/news/local/marijuana-mo ... n-arrested
http://m.msnewsnow.com/story/36203656/m ... n-arrested
http://Www.newsobserver.com/news/local/ ... 10706.html
http://www.dailytimesleader.com/content ... possession
http://www.wymt.com/content/news/Police ... 54793.html
All of these are pretty small stills, though most also involved other crimes, no real surprise that arrested criminals break more than 1 law. If there is any hope, there is no indication WE are being targeted. But if you happen to get found out, arrest and prosecution are likely.
426365_314629841931875_404008857_n.jpg

STILL.jpeg

IMG_2229.jpeg

Bryan+County+man+accused+of+making+moonshine.jpg

still3.png

And just to continue the John Oliver rant from before:
https://youtu.be/USkEzLuzmZ4

But please, by all means continue this conversation for the free world.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby Kareltje » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:11 pm

In the past all over the Netherlands small stills were seized. Even shortly after WWII that was done. Mostly ran by poor people trying to make some money. These stills were rather modest in size.
In the 60's the smuggling of butter to Belgium became less profitable and Belgian distillers tried to get a foothold in Brabant and Limburg in the south of the Netherlands. In 1968 the first large illegal still was seized and from that moment on customs and police started more intense actions to find and raid illegal stills. These had a considerable size. The book I just am reading shows a bit the atmosphere of Moonshiners, be it on a Dutch scale. Most stills were set up in barns that were rented from farmers and moved as soon as suspicion was suspected. A lot of the product was smuggled to Belgium, although the cities in Holland were supplied too. Sentences for the farmers varied quite much, from small fines to a year of imprisonment. Only seldomly a stiller was caught.
The book was published in 1990 and states that recently the craft withered. Rumour had it that the former distillers (or the organisations) are now involved in chemical drugs or marihuana. This is denied by one of my friends, whose family was involved in distilling and is NOT making drugs, nowadays.

I have not heard of any seizure of small hobby distillers, lately, nor of any large illegal distilleries. I have sold a lot of stuff for making wine or beer at home and in the 80's also a small glass still. Nowadays on Marktplaats ( a kind of eBay) there are always a few small stills offered and I never heard or read of any problem, although the possession of a still, even a small, glass one, is illegal. On Marktplaats even commercial stills are advertised, apparently without problems.
I know several stillers but they at the most give their product away as a birthday gift, they do not sell. The largest still I know personally is my 80-ltr and I use it only for stripping sugarwash. I have heard rumours of a few more distillers, but do not know them.
I have no sign "Distillery" on my house, but some of my neighbours and friends know I distill and I do not feel it should be a great and tight secret.

Does this answer your question?
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby shadylane » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:04 pm

Birrofilo wrote:Hallo,
I was wondering if we could collect true stories of true convictions for home distilling for home consumption, in the various parts of the Western world.

I often find stories about what I consider a "homedistiller" getting busted
But I never find out what the legal outcome was. :roll:
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby Birrofilo » Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:13 am

It seems that the news, or at least the titles, often make a certain confusion between home distillers who make money out of moonshine, and homedistiller who do this as a hobby. I suspect all over the free world Police only goes against illegal commercial activity.
But the stories in the news use vague terms such as "moonshiners" and "illegal distilling", "still seizure" etc. and people think that what happens to the many Popcorn Sutton of the world can really happen to them.

The fact itself that there is no slang term for hobby distiller, as opposed to illegal seller, shows that most of the times the two cathegories are confused. This creates, IMHO, more anxiety than strictly necessary. Maybe we should begin using the expression "hobby distiller" systematically, to make a political point. Expressions such as "home distiller" or "moonshiner" is, in this respect, ambiguous, as somebody illegally selling spirits can be a home distiller, and "moonshine" is always intended as illegally sold alcohol.

This forum itself could IMHO change his subtitle as: "The Largest online resource for hobby distillers".

The story by Kareltje about the Netherlands seems to confirm this. The story about seizures and convictions seem to always relate to smuggling and illegal selling.

I think this thread is very interesting: so far I think we have this situation:
USA: the hobby distiller is subject to some arbitrary procedure and he has not much defense, the span of consequences, both as a misdemeanour and as a civil violation, is very broad and basically it's difficult to assess to risk;

Rest of world: we heard about Italy, Canada (in other threads), UK, the Netherlands where the Police is totally uninterested in chasing hobby distillers, as demonstrated by unhindered online commerce of stills (in many countries possession of an unregistered still, or sale of stills without proper administrative procedure of registration, is theoretically illegal). From other threads we know in Hungary it is legal, in Bulgaria it is legal and the excise tax collection is not really enforced.

It would be very interesting to know how the situation is in countries in Europe where law enforcement is generally strict (such as Germany, Austria), in countries where alcohol is heavily taxed (such as Danemark, Sweden) and in countries where distillation has a deeply rooted tradition (such as Mexico).

The still I decided to buy will be shipped to me from Austria, I will buy it through a web site which is devoted to selling serious distilling rigs (not the allowable 2 or 3 litres rig which is legal in Austria). I suppose there is no registration procedure in Austria for the sale of stills, but I wonder nonetheless (not that I really care, although there is an article in the Codice Penale making a felony to import stills illegally, i.e. without due administrative procedure).

The situation in Finland, Sweden, Danemark would be very interesting to know. Those countries have a very punitive - medieval - laws regarding prostitution, and have always been influenced by Protestant moralism. Finland is the only other country in the West to have had alcohol prohibition. So it would be interesting to know what kind of tolerance, or repression, there is about hobby distilling.

The impression I have is that the EU at large is probably quite "safe", I mean you can talk about that with any policeman in a confidential environment about your activity as a hobby distiller without any problem. Germany, Austria, and Scandinavian countries remain to be known better under this respect.

The post by Kareltje seems to confirm that the Netherlands also have a thriving hobby distilling market online, which is a sure indication the Police is not interested.

Please go on inserting here news about hobby distillers having trouble, wherever that happens.

EDIT "at least" for the wrong "the list" at the beginning.
Last edited by Birrofilo on Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby thecroweater » Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:42 am

In Oz you don't hear about anyone getting arrested unless there was selling then it hits the news in a sensational fashion such that you read on waiting to see the bit where they robbed old ladies or kicked a puppy for laughs. I don't know of any joe blogs or Fred Nerk getting busted in his shed punching out a few bottles for his own use but then I didn't know my great aunt died till after her funeral and that didn't mean it didn't happen. It's like this here , the laws are vague as ancient adopted law can often be. The laws concerning home distillation are spread acros two separate acts of legislation concerning different aspects of law, some is very clear and some ambiguous. However the sections concerning tax evasion are crystal clear. No prosecuting costs money it's work and someone needs to stick their neck out and say this prosecution has a good chance of success with a return. Some 460 year old foreign law pertaining to some monarch wanting to raise taxes to wage a civil war with language only vaguely updated in 1902 and fairly minor possibilities of any deficit return is prolly not the case for the up and coming
Johnny law. He is going to be a whole ton more interested if such endeavours result in injury or flagrant tax evasion because he is more likely of a conviction and a return on the inverstment the prosecution will have to put into the case. That's how I see it anyways.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby TDick » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:39 pm

thecroweater wrote:In Oz you don't hear about anyone getting arrested unless there was selling then it hits the news in a sensational fashion such that you read on waiting to see the bit where they robbed old ladies or kicked a puppy for laughs. I don't know of any joe blogs or Fred Nerk getting busted in his shed punching out a few bottles for his own use but then I didn't know my great aunt died till after her funeral and that didn't mean it didn't happen.

When I read the post I googled "Alabama moonshine arrests"

http://www.wsfa.com/story/36203656/moon ... n-arrested
This was a report on Alabama TV about a guy in Mississippi. This is more of an instruction on what NOT to do.

http://www.wsfa.com/story/29465479/500- ... ton-county
This was in Alabama. Curious about how they would make a bust of this size without knowing who to arrest.
This is a sparcely populated county with a LONG history of indifference to the law.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nat ... s/8719983/
This is about the ABC "Moonshine Task Force" in USA Today 4 years ago. They use all the age old rhetoric. Also if a 4 man task force is going to spread out over our fairly large state, I doubt they'll pay attention to small home "hobbyists". But that is NOT to say the sheriff or PD won't pay attention if you piss your neighbors off.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby Birrofilo » Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:40 am

That interesting TDick and I think somehow confirms the general impression I have.
The second and the third news are related to illegal distilling businesses.
The first one seems to be more a case of the new breed of distiller criminals (as is described in the third article). The case of an obviously dangerous person, heavily armed, who might distill and sell illegally today, and sell drug tomorrow or smuggle weapons in another occasion. I think they weren't really after the still, but after the person, a convicted felon who evidently longed for State accommodation.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby kiwi Bruce » Sun May 06, 2018 8:11 am

zapata wrote: Almost every person charged with a crime is offered a plea deal. Basically it goes like this. The prosecutor shakes you down, "Hey buddy, looks like you got in over your head, you're probably innocent, the law is probably absurd, but you're facing 10 years in the slammer if convicted of that felony. But I'm your friend so here's what I can do. If you wave your right to trial and plea guilty to this lesser crime, you don't have to take your chances that a judge or jury will convict you no matter your innocence. You do 6 months (or a year, and/or pay some fines) whatever and move on."


Wouldn't this have to be at the Federal Level in States like PA? Home Distillation is "on the books" as legal in PA,(and almost every other State of the Union) but the State Laws is subjugated by the regulations of the BATFE...the Federal restrictions are not "LAW" they are not in the UCC Law books that govern the Federal Laws of the US (for those that don't know, the UCC {Univeral Commerce Code} has replaced the "Constitution" for the most past in the USA) ...and the BATFE is no longer under the Treasury Department, which used it as a Tax Collecting enforcement agency. It was turned over to Homeland Security six years ago. So where do we stand now exactly?
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby zapata » Sun May 06, 2018 10:47 am

Home Distillation "on the books" as legal in PA,(and almost every other State of the Union)

I can't speak to PA with any authority, but the states I do have familiarity with it is most definitely not legal at the state level. In fact I was under the loose impression that the only state it was actually fully legal at the state level was Missouri.

For example for PA I was able to find this on the books:
§ 1.4. Unlawful manufacture—compensation to informers.
(a) The efficient administration of the Liquor Code requires the suppression of the unlawful manufacture of liquor, and to that end the Board may, in its discretion, pay for information leading to the location and seizure of illicit stills and the arrest and conviction of persons engaged in the operation of the stills.

Surprisingly I could find no definition for illicit stills or unlawful manufacture, and maybe I just didn't look enough but I couldn't find much laws at all specifically related to distilling. Presumably then PA is explicitly falling back on federal regs, but in this case actively enforcing them. I have no idea what the actual prosecution would be in this case.

To put PA into regional context though, a very quick googling shows every state bordering PA to have state laws specifically outlawing home distilling. PA and MO may be outliers, and there may be a couple others, but I think the vast majority of Americans come under both federal and state laws, with the state laws being far more likely to be enforced on non-commercial folks.

Edit, found this site, I wouldn't trust it without chasing the links, but it seems to say that home distillation is legal under state laws in Arizona, Massachusetts, Missouri, and North Dakota.
http://www.distillate.org/laws/list
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby jon1163 » Sun May 06, 2018 1:11 pm

seamusm53 wrote:Not to hijack this thread/question but it is not just a conviction that we should fear. Being arrested becomes part of a record which in this digital age is FOREVER (try to find a job with that on your resume). The cost of defending oneself could easily lead to bankruptcy and because most of us are in fact HOME distillers loss of our homes becomes a risk we assume with this hobby. Those costs aren't reimbursed if we are acquitted - and face it not all of us stand to be as lucky as OJ in his trial for murdering his wife. We simply musn't presume that history will stay on our side. And keep the risks not only at bay but somewhat unspoken as regards significant others.
While you should have a fear of arrest you should not worry too much about losing your home. Generally law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have to show to a civil court that you profited from an illegal activity before they can take your assets. Well the burden of proof for a vehicle or otherwise is lower taking someone's home requires an extraordinary effort. Drug dealers homes are almost never taken or even asked for for that matter. Also the authorities will generally have to show that your assets were purchased with proceeds from the illegal activity. That's hard to do when you have retirement, or a job, or the like. just FYI

And I would say that if you're selling you're not very smart. Also any money obtained from illegal activity once placed where legal money is stored is called money laundering. That will get you screwed.
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Re: True stories of true convictions

Postby kiwi Bruce » Sun May 06, 2018 2:00 pm

From "I got Busted"

runingkind wrote:Last june I was in my shed had my still going full blast having fun when I turned around there stood two cops watching me.
I about fell out.In a few minutes it looked like they had a mass muderer cornerd there were cops, d.e.a. agents every where.
I Went to jail,and they took every thing in my shed.If you think the law will not arest you think again.Its long story I will have to finish
later got to go for now.
have a great day
..

runingkind wrote:Sorry I could not finish my story,But here it is.
How I got busted was my brother,my son worked for him.Someone stole a aircompresser out of his basement,he new who got it.
He new I made hootch,Butt instead of calling me ahead of time And telling me he was calling the law he didn't.
The police was asking evrey one that worked for my brother about it the compresser.So i'm running my still and there they were.
They came to talk to my son,he wasn't home.I reckon they seen me and come in my shed,busted me and for got about the compesser.
They took every thing in my shed even things that had nothing to do with distilling.One officer I have known all my life Saved them form tearing my house apart.
He told them if I said there was nothing in the house it wasn't,that I was a man of my word.
They wanted to know if I sold it.
How often I made it.
Whate I done with it if I wasn't selling it'
If my wife or son knew about it.
I had 8 gallon of clear bottled on the shelf.
15 gallon of peach mash.
4 gallon in the still running it back threw.
all gone rekon they had a big fourth.
I have to go back to work now will finish tonite

runingkind wrote:Ok guys now I was took to the station booked,charged with a feloney(MANUFACTURING DISTILLED SPIRITS WITH OUT A LICENSE.
CARRYS 1 TO 5 IN THE PEN.)The cop said they were not calling in the feds or it would be bad,so the locals handled it THANK GOD.
The judge that arraigned me was my best friends 1st cousin and he makes wine.He let me out on a $5000 pr bond.I had a woman proc.
It was a year before it went to trial,Before a different judge That my wife knew.My lawyer said he found a loop hole in the law That if you weren't
selling it or transporting it It could be droped to a misstimeaner and a fine or jail or both.
I pleaded guilty to a fine,With no feloney on my record.The fine is from $5.00 to a $1000.00
The proc about shit when he fined me $5.00 and said that law needed changed.
But when it make the local paper it made me look like a moonshiner and a theif
because of the compresser.I also had to pay a $160.00 quart cost.But the judge did say if It happened agian I would go to jail.
The reason the feds was not called because my still 15g keg was to small for a big operation and I wasn't selling it.
It all hapened in a little town in WILD WONDERFUL WV.
SORRY IT TOOK SO LONG but hope yall enjoyed the story.
I'm not insane...I just help out at the asylum when they're low on patients(1958 Goon Show)
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