Six Charged In Virginia Moonshine Operation

November 21, 2007

(AP) Six people were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of running a moonshine pipeline that authorities say reached as far north as Philadelphia.

Five Franklin County men and one Pittsylvania County woman appeared before a magistrate Monday and were released on $10,000 bonds, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Burnham. They are accused of conspiracy to violate the travel act and produce and receive untaxed liquor, failure to give bond, possession of an unregistered still, unlawful production of distilled spirits, money laundering and perjury.

According to the 31-count indictment recently unsealed in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, the defendants equipped a still in a Halifax County building with surveillance cameras but were apparently unaware that federal investigators later installed hidden cameras at the site.

It is not clear from the indictment how much untaxed liquor authorities believe made its way from the still to other points across the region. However, the indictment does note that on May 12, 2006, investigators found 1,726 one-gallon jugs, 600 pounds of sugar, 50 pounds of barley and 125 empty bags that each once held 100 pounds of sugar.

Sugar is a key ingredient in moonshine and authorities have accused several of the defendants of buying it in bulk from a Richmond distributor.

Charged in the indictment were Jody Alton Smith, 60, of Glade Hill; Danny Walter Davis, 49, of Glade Hill; Terry Lynn Smith, 48, of Glade Hill; Jarman Johnson, 65, of Glade Hill; John David Fralin, 55, of Rocky Mount; and Margaret Smith, 46, of Sandy Level.

Federal authorities also filed papers to sieze various real estate and vehicles they said were linked to the operation. Each count of money laundering carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Each of the other counts carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Jody Alton Smith was also charged with theft of government funds. That count carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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