Sheriff: Longtime Worker Ran Illegal Winery in Sewage Plant

Allen Maurice Stiefel has been an employee at the wastewater treatment plant for 15 years
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2020 8:26 AM CST
Alabama Worker Arrested Over Illegal Winery in Sewage Plant
This photo provided by The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office shows an illegal winery that was operating at a municipal sewage plant in Rainsville, Ala. The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement it received an anonymous tip about an alcohol operation at a municipal building.   (The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

(Newser) – We're guessing this wine's terroir wasn't the most pleasant. Alabama officials on Thursday uncovered an illegal winery run out of a sewage treatment plant in Rainsville—and on Friday arrested one of the plant's four workers. The New York Times reports 62-year-old Allen Maurice Stiefel, a 15-year employee of the Rainsville Waste Water Treatment Plant, was arrested Friday and hit with a misdemeanor related to possessing an illegally manufactured alcoholic beverage as well as a felony charge of use of official position for personal gain. AL.com reports Stiefel has been suspended with pay pending an investigation.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office says it was alerted to the illegal operation via an anonymous tip received on Thursday. "Agents and investigators located a large amount of illegal alcohol, and a winery which appeared to be in operation for a long period of time." Alabama residents cannot possess more than 15 gallons of homemade wine or beer at a time, and selling homemade alcohol is illegal. The sheriff's office not did detail the quantity of wine seized or what Stiefel planned to do with it, but by the AP's count, police photos show "what appears to be more than 100 gallons of white and red liquid" in the seized fermenting vessels. The Times adds that DeKalb County is a dry county, though there are wet cities within it. (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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