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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 gets probation for making moonshine
Ricky Nelson Matherly will serve no prison time
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Courtesy Photo: A Penhook man received a two-year suspended sentence for manufacturing moonshine in these two, 800-gallon blackpot stills that were raided in May by ABC agents.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

A Penhook man received a two-year suspended sentence Monday in Franklin County Circuit Court for manufacturing moonshine.

Ricky Nelson Matherly, 55, pleaded guilty in September 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.

Matherly was sentenced to 12 months probation, during which he is to avoid drugs and alcohol, and ordered to be of good behavior for six years.

When asked by Judge W.N. Alexander if his "liquor days are over," Matherly replied, "Yes, sir."

Matherly told the judge he is sorry that he broke the law. But finding a job with felony convictions on his record is difficult, he said.

"I work as a mechanic when I can," Matherly told the judge. "I do what I can to help support my family."

Matherly spent several years in prison for the 1987 convictions of malicious wounding and using a firearm in the commission of a felony, according to court records. Matherly was released in 1995, he said.

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 in September to a misdemeanor charge of possession of untaxed liquor. She 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 received a 12-month suspended sentence and a $1,000 fine.

Walker's mother, Debra Adams Walker, 54, of Penhook, was also charged in connection with the investigation. She was initially charged with possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony, but that charge was dismissed in September.

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