Missouri moonshiners plead guilty to federal charges

Thursday, October 4, 2007 | 2:10 p.m. CDT; updated 11:51 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

WEST PLAINS — A father and son have pleaded guilty to federal charges of making illegal whiskey in their barn in the Missouri Ozarks.

Federal prosecutors said it was the biggest illegal still discovered in Missouri in 30 years.

Wayne H. Pettyjohn, 70, and his son, Francis Dwayne Pettyjohn, 41, both of Howell County, appeared Wednesday in a U.S. District Court in Springfield and pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges for running an unlicensed still in south-central Missouri, near the Arkansas border.

Prosecutors said the Pettyjohns admitted that they had been making illegal whiskey and selling it to local bars since 1998.

The case began when officers from a drug task force bought more than a dozen bottles of moonshine from the Pettyjohns during an undercover investigation.

Wayne and Francis Pettyjohn each pleaded guilty to tax fraud by a distiller. Francis Pettyjohn also pleaded guilty to concealing untaxed spirits on Aug. 10, 2006, during the execution of a search warrant.

The August 2006 indictment also contained an asset forfeiture allegation, which would require the Pettyjohns to forfeit to the government any property used to commit the violations, including 80 acres of real estate in Howell County.

The forfeiture allegation has not been settled, U.S. Attorney John Wood said in a statement.

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