Booze sales topic of TV show

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DREWRYVILLE—The story of a Drewryville man accused of selling moonshine is expected to be featured on an upcoming episode of the Discovery Channel TV show “Moonshiners.”

Production Assistant Jessica Jay said Tuesday they learned about the arrest of Shelton “Buck” Harris, 77, for allegedly selling moonshine for $45 a gallon from The Tidewater News website.

“We are covering a story about people being busted for moonshine,” Jay said.

She doesn’t expect filming to take place in Southampton County, but may include The Tidewater News article from the July 19 arrest in the program, which is expected to air sometime in October.

Harris was arrested after agents with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control seized nearly 20 gallons of moonshine from his home on Tennessee Road, according to court records. The arrest was made of an undercover investigation that lasted for several months.

ABC confidential informants allegedly purchased moonshine from Harris on several occasions leading up to the arrest. According to court records, although cups were found in the shed where the apparent sale of booze took place, there was no indication of a shot house.

Agents also seized 17, full one-gallon plastic jugs, one partial jug and numerous mason jars of illegally distilled alcohol along with $366 and two shotguns.

The suspect did not manufacture the moonshine and no still was found, according to court records.

Harris was charged with three counts of maintaining a common nuisance and four counts of the illegal possession of untaxed distilled spirits. All are misdemeanors. He was released on his personal recognizance and has a hearing at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in Southampton County General District Court.

Robert Brooks, special agent in charge for ABC’s Hampton District, had not heard about the Discovery Channel featuring Harris.

“It’s certainly news,” Brooks said, noting his agency has recently seen an increase in the sale and manufacturing of moonshine.

“A lot of this has come back,” he said. “People are having a hard time and they are able to sell it. I think it’s the economy and they (the buyers) don’t have to pay the tax.”

It’s also an “easy commodity to manufacture, and there’s a market for it,” Brooks said.

He also believes there’s much interest in reality shows and the folklore behind the moonshiner. “It’s a part of history,” Brooks said. “Prohibition didn’t work and moonshining was a way of life back then.”

ABC will not participate in the program, said Carol Mawyer, a public relations specialist with the agency.

“We understood it was not a documentary. It was far different from that,” Mawyer said. “The message our agency (wants to pass on) is it is illegal to make alcohol without a license because of health, safety and commerce issues.”