Richmond County brings in 1950s moonshine expert for still bust

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

Hundreds of gallons of illegal liquor...and so far, no arrests.

An anonymous tip led officers to a shed behind Walter Bennett's South Augusta home. That's where officers say they found 580 gallons of moonshine whiskey Thursday evening.

This kind of bust is so uncommon, they called in a moonshine expert from the 1950s.

Police didn't arrest Walter Bennett right away because of his health. Bennett speaks with an electronic voice box.

Former Richmond County Sheriff and Revenue agent Charlie Webster spent 30 years busting moonshine makers.

"It brought back old memories," Webster said.

Webster is the only one in the area who understands how it all works. That's why District Attorney Danny Craig was glad to have him on the scene.

"We were having to rely on someone from the past...a vintage sheriff, if you will, to help us," Craig said.

Moonshine demand was higher back in the 60s.

"That much liquor there and not being sold shows it's not movin' too fast," Webster said.

But investigators say he was using it in his "members only" nightclub.

Some neighbors out here say they knew about the nightclub...but they're still surprised by what officers found.

"Me and my buddies...we'd go all the time. I never thought he'd do nothin' like that," said neighbor Peewee Kastien. Kastien claims he never saw the still, gas burner, or ingredients that officers found.

Manufacturing untaxed liquor is a felony with a penalty of three to five years in jail. Up to 50 gallons of homemade alcohol is legal for personal use...but investigators found ten times that amount.

"That was a lot of liquor for a small still," Webster said.

Thanks to Webster, the still and nightclub on Walter Bennett's property are shut down.

Officers say Bennett could be arrested Friday evening or as late as Monday.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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