Settlement sought in confiscated whiskey case

Settlement sought in confiscated whiskey case

By: AP

By JOE EDWARDS Associated Press Writer NASHVILLE (AP) — Prosecutors and defense attorneys are negotiating to settle the case of a Nashville-area man indicted on charges of illegally possessing up to $1 million worth of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Randy Piper, 47, of Goodlettsville is free on $25,000 bond and is due in court in Lynchburg Aug. 12 to have a trial date set. But District Attorney General Charles Crawford and Raymond Fraley Jr., Piper’s attorney, both said they are optimistic the case can be resolved. Piper was indicted in Moore County last January after state liquor officials seized 2,400 bottles in October following a tip that someone was selling alcohol without a license. They raided two warehouses owned by Piper and a home in Lynchburg, the small town about 65 miles southeast of Nashville where the famous Tennessee sipping whiskey is distilled. “The state has made an offer and we’re negotiating,” said Fraley, of Fayetteville. “It’s up to Randy.” Crawford would not discuss details of the negotiations, but Fraley said the state wants his client to relinquish some of the whiskey. Piper, a plumber, has said he’s a collector of Jack Daniel’s bottles, and Fraley has said his client was singled out for selling one bottle for approximately $350, and charged with illegally possessing the others. “It’s unfortunate it got this far for one bottle of whiskey,” Fraley said. “They took his entire collection when there are collectors around Moore County (Lynchburg) who possess a lot of bottles of whiskey.” The prosecutor said he’s trying to be understanding. “The ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) and my office have tried to coordinate what Mr. Piper should get back and what should be destroyed or put in a museum,” Crawford said. The confiscated whiskey is stored in an ABC vault in Nashville until the case is resolved. Fraley has petitioned officials to have it returned to his client. Earlier this year, Gov. Phil Bredesen signed a bill to allow the state to sell confiscated items like booze and cars in online auctions. Online liquor sales would be limited to licensed retailers in Tennessee. ABC officials have said the value of the seized liquor has possibly been driven up by the value of the antique bottles, which range from 3-liters to half-pints. One seized bottle dates to 1914, with its seal unbroken. ABC agents have estimated its value at about $10,000. Piper and his attorney have claimed that Piper was selling collectible bottles, not whiskey. Crawford said state legislators need to review the liquor laws as they apply to this case. “There should be some more specific guidelines on what’s allowed and not allowed in terms of the sale of items that might be considered collectibles,” he said. Published in The Messenger 5.28.08

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