Leader of the whiskey theft operation gets sentence cut

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The leader of a whiskey theft operation that is already a part of Kentucky lore was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but his time behind bars ends after a month.

A judge on Friday shortened the prison term for ex-distillery worker Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger after prosecutors raised no objection to a defense request for shock probation.

Curtsinger’s release from prison, may come as Sunday — 30 days in his sentence, his lawyer and a prosecutor said then. It is the least amount of time someone can serve for shock probation is allowed under the legislation of a member state.

During a short hearing, the prosecutor Zachary Becker said: there are too many drug dealers and violent criminals “who deserve his bed in the prison more than he does.”

He added that “I cannot with a good conscience against this motion,” given the cost of the incarceration of more dangerous offenders.

Kentucky’s top public security official has said that the state of the prisons could run out of space by May 2019, allowing the early release of thousands of nonviolent prisoners of the state continues to struggle with the effects of an opioid epidemic.

Curtsinger, a former Buffalo Trace distillery worker, was in the middle of the bourbon-heist scheme that spirited away tens of thousands of dollars ‘ worth of liquor. The thefts focused on the Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey distilleries. He pleaded guilty to charges that included theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.

The thefts included hard-to-get and expensive brands such as Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. The local sheriff an estimate of the recovered whiskey was for a value of at least $ 100,000.

Becker said Friday that he thought that Curtsinger had been “adequately shocked by this experience, so as not to reoffend,” having regard to the penalties that he got “both in and out of this courtroom.”

Curtsinger’s lawyer, Whitney True Lawson, said Friday he has “a lot to endure because of his actions.” Lawson said that be the case, the property crime, and that Curtsinger prior brushes with the law are limited to a few minor traffic offenses.

“This is a great fight, a great fight, a lot of hardships … and he has a hope of restoration that he needs to do,” Lawson told reporters after the hearing. “And I think he is eager to say that this chapter of his life is over and to see what the next chapter holds for him.”

Curtsinger, who is in his late 40s, did not attend on Friday, to hear. He had the painting of houses as a way to help support his family for his incarceration, his lawyer said.

Curtsinger faces a few years of supervised probation after his release from prison, Becker said in an interview. Curtsinger has already paid for the refund amounts to a few thousand dollars is required under his plea agreement, the prosecutor said.

Ten people were indicted after the system was discovered in 2015. Curtsinger was the only one to serve prison time, and that was “right” by his leader role, Becker said.

Curtsinger, who worked at the Buffalo Trace loading docks, spread the whisky by a consortium that consisted of members of his recreational softball team, authorities said.

The scheme was exposed after the Franklin County sheriff’s office received an anonymous tip that some of the missing Wild Turkey bourbon barrels were hidden in Curtsinger property.

Sheriff’s officials barrels with bourbon behind a building on the site. The barrels were sanded and painted black on the tops and bottoms in what the authorities believed was an attempt to remove the distiller’s brands.

The researchers said they cracked not only the whisky stealing but a steroid-trading scheme as part of the research.

A big question still looms: what to do with the confiscation of bourbon. Becker said Friday he will file a motion soon in demand that the barn spirits are removed in a way that fits the needs of the Van Winkle family and Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey distilleries.

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