Two incidents in the past six months have authorities on the alert for local illegal moonshine activity.
A 13-year-old Logan County student was suspended last week for bringing a bottle of moonshine to his science class in January, according to Logan County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Riverside Local Schools Superintendent Scott Mann was also forced to reprimand the teacher, Jennifer Thompson, because she failed to report the incident.
Thompson told deputies that she knew the boy created a still and was starting to produce alcohol.
In January, the student brought the alcohol to class, and Thompson immediately dumped it down the drain. However, she failed to tell anyone about the incident.
“I think he wanted to show his science teacher and I don’t think there was malicious intent at all,” said Mann. “The only real problem was the failure to report it right away.”
This isn’t the only moonshine incident in the area recently.
In August, undercover Champaign County Sheriff’s Office deputies caught a Champaign County Fair Board member selling moonshine out of his camper at the fair.
James Kerns, 51, of St. Paris, pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to community control for six months, fined $800 and ordered to complete 50 hours of community service.
Ohio Investigative Unit Enforcement Commander Eric Wolf said distilling alcohol is still alive in Ohio.
“We’ve encountered everything from small operations in someone’s garage or home to larger operations on farms,” Wolf said.
However — unlike brewing beer and making wine — distilling alcohol is illegal, because it can be a dangerous process, he added.
“Basically, if you do not know what you are doing you can create a poisonous substance that would be dangerous to your health,” Wolf said.
He explained the chemical process in distilling alcohol releases ethanol and methanol.
Wolf said there are a variety of reasons why people decide to distill their own spirits. Some people believe they can make a better product than what is in the stores, while others try to make it a business. Some do it because it has been a family tradition passed on for generations.
Wolf said his department, which is part of Ohio’s Department of Public Safety, tries to find distillers to prevent them from hurting themselves or anyone else. He said if you know of any illegal distilling activity to call #677.
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