Illegal winery found at wastewater facility in Rainsville, Alabama

GADSDEN, Ala. – The supervisor of an Alabama wastewater treatment facility where investigators found an unlicensed winery has been suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the investigation, the mayor of Rainsville, Alabama, said Friday.

According to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, Allen Maurice Stiefel, 62, was arrested Friday and charged with unlawful possession of an illegally manufactured alcoholic beverage, which is a misdemeanor, and use of official position for personal gain, a Class B felony.

Rainsville Mayor Roger Lingerfelt said he did not expect any more suspensions, and he expressed shock at the discovery at the facility. He said believed the supervisor had worked there close to 15 years, and had been an excellent employee with no prior problems.

The strange story came to light Thursday evening, when DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden revealed narcotics agents and investigators responded to an anonymous tip at the Rainsville Wastewater Treatment Plant. The mayor was contacted to get access to the plant, the sheriff said in a press release.

Narcotics agents and investigators discovered an illegal winery at the Rainsville Wastewater Treatment Plant in Alabama Thursday afternoon, confiscating a large amount of alcohol.

In a press conference Friday, Lingerfelt said he contacted a key holder, and they went to the facility. He said investigators told them about the tip that there was illegal activity going on there.

They went inside, he said, and found the winery – which was unlicensed and therefore illegal. The mayor said the winery seemed to be in a corner of the facility.

Apparently, people don’t have to worry that wastewater was being made into wine. The mayor said the winery equipment was separate, and did not involve wastewater treatment equipment.

Follow reporter Donna Thornton on Twitter: @GT_DThornton

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