Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Nine Indicted in Kentucky Whiskey Theft Ring
Gilbert Thomas Curtsinger (pictured), who worked at Buffalo Trace Distillery, was one of nine persons indicted today in Franklin County, Kentucky. The indictments and other details of the case were announced at an early-afternoon news conference by Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton. Curtsinger was the ringleader, according to authorities. Julie Curtsinger, his wife, was also indicted.
Here is the latest from Associated Press reporter Bruce Schreiner.
The investigation of the criminal gang responsible for thefts at Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey is ongoing. It involves long-term employees of both distilleries. The gang was also involved in the importation and distribution of illegal steroids. Thefts go back to at least 2008. The famous Van Winkle theft, which was reported all over the world, was committed by this gang.
Indicted in addition to the Curtsingers were Mark S. Searcy, Lawrenceburg; Ronnie Lee Hubbard, Georgetown; Dusty H. Adkins, Georgetown; Christopher L. Preston, Frankfort; Joshua T. Preston, Frankfort; Robert M. McKinney, Frankfort; and Shawn R. Ballard, Richmond.
The recovered whiskey in barrels may have to be destroyed but the whiskey in bottles may be returned to its rightful owners.
Apparently the whiskey still in barrels was sold very casually. The conspirators who worked at the distilleries would say to a friend, "hey, we made too much. Would you like to buy a barrel?" They were selling barrels valued at $3,000 to $6,000 each for $1,200-$1,500. The buyers in many cases didn't realize they were receiving stolen merchandise, they just thought they were getting a good deal because they knew someone at the distillery. When the thing began to unravel, people called the sheriff themselves and said, "I think I may have one of those barrels."
"There was stuff walking out of there frequently," said Sheriff Melton about Buffalo Trace. Among the products stolen were steel drums containing bourbon intended for Eagle Rare 17-year-old, part of the Buffalo Trace Antiques Collection. The whiskey has been stored in steel drums to prevent it from aging further.