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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Penhook man guilty of making moonshine
Ricky Nelson Matherly faces up to five years in prison
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Courtesy Photo: A Penhook man pleaded guilty Wednesday to manufacturing moonshine in these two, 800-gallon blackpot stills raided in May by ABC agents.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

A Penhook man faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday in Franklin County Circuit Court to manufacturing moonshine.

Ricky Nelson Matherly, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of manufacturing moonshine in two, 800-gallon stills in the Snow Creek area.

Two misdemeanor charges for possession of untaxed alcoholic beverages (moonshine) and possession of a distilling apparatus without a permit were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

In July 2012, special agents with the ABC's Bureau of Law Enforcement received a tip that a white male had purchased a large amount of sugar at a wholesale store in South Boston, according to prosecutor Dwight Rudd.

The agents began an investigation that led them to Matherly, Rudd said. After months of surveillance, agents located the still site in a heavily wooded area at the edge of an open field, just off Finney Road in early May 2013. The site contained two, 800-gallon operational blackpot stills.

When agents raided the still site on May 6, Matherly was stirring mash as the burners were preparing for a run, Rudd said. Agents also discovered 1,600 gallons of mash at the site.

During a search at Matherly's residence about five miles away from the still site, agents discovered 182 gallons of untaxed liquor and various quantities of liquor-making supplies, including sugar and corn meal, according to Senior Special Agent Bev Whitmer with the ABC Special Operations Unit.

Matherly's stepdaughter, Debra Nicole Walker, was also found at the still site on May 6, Rudd said. She was sitting on top of the still.

Walker, 36, of Rocky Mount pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of possession of untaxed liquor.

Walker was initially charged with a felony count of manufacturing moonshine and a misdemeanor count of possession of a distilling apparatus without a permit. The felony charge was reduced to the misdemeanor possession charge to which she pleaded guilty, and the misdemeanor still charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Walker was sentenced to 12 months in jail with all of the time suspended; however, she must pay a $1,000 fine and be of good behavior for two years. Judge W.N. Alexander II agreed to allow Walker to pay off the fine and court costs with community service hours ($8 per hour) if needed.

A sentencing hearing for Matherly is set for Nov. 21 at 3:15 p.m. in circuit court.

Walker's mother, Debra Adams Walker, 54, of Penhook, is also charged in connection with the investigation. She is charged with possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. Her trial is set for Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. in Franklin County Circuit Court.

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