A Wilkesboro man who has been publicized for his moonshine expertise is charged in a federal indictment with being part of a conspiracy that produced and sold over 9,000 gallons of untaxed liquor within about 2 ½ years.
Roger “Buck” Nance, 75, and four other men are charged in connection with multiple loads of moonshine transported from a still in Roaring River to near Richmond, Va., and sold between April 19, 2018, and Sept. 23, 2020.
Nance was “master distiller of legally produced and taxed liquor for a licensed distiller in North Wilkesboro” during this period, according to the federal indictment. He has been described in online profiles as a moonshine “folk hero,” “legend” and “true artisan.”
The indictment said over $100,000 in federal, North Carolina and Virginia excise taxes should have but wasn’t paid on the 9,000-plus gallons of liquor.
Clifton Ray Anderson Jr., 47, of Boomer and Huie Kenneth Nicholson, 74, of Hamptonville are charged in the same indictment, filed Aug. 17 in the Charlotte office of the Western District of U.S. District Court.
Gary Matthew Ray, 53, of Roaring River and James Patterson, 71, of Dinwiddie, Va., are also charged with being part of the conspiracy in separate bills of information filed Sept. 10 in the Statesville office of the Western District.
The indictment said Anderson established and he and Nance operated an illegal still in a barn on a Roaring River farm. It said the still produced hundreds of gallons of moonshine per week and had capacity for 18,000 gallons a year.
According to the bill of information in Ray’s case, Ray owned the barn and leased it to Anderson for $500 per month. The document said Ray lived on the farm, saw the still operating and sometimes fed mash from it to his cattle.
The indictment said Nance bought moonshine produced by this still from Anderson. It said he paid $10 per gallon, less the cost of bulk sugar, yeast, grain and plastic one-gallon jugs Nance provided.
The indictment said Nicholson picked up one-gallon plastic jugs of moonshine at the barn and delivered them to a “moonshine distributor” (identified as Patterson) at a “stash house” (shed) in or near Stony Creek, Va., about 45 miles south of Richmond, Va.
It said Nicholson did this in white vans provided by Nance. Ray is accused of letting Nance park the white vans on his property while seeing them come and go.
The bill of information charging Patterson said he paid or caused Nance and Nichols to be paid about $20 in cash per gallon of moonshine delivered to Virginia. It said Nance replaced Patterson’s previous source of untaxed liquor.
The indictment said the moonshine was then sold to customers in Virginia for $30 to $50 per gallon without the addition of excise taxes.
Court papers listed 32 deliveries of moonshine distilled by Anderson to Patterson between May 15, 2019, and Sept. 19, 2020. Papers said the moonshine was taken to the stash house in Virginia.
This included 17 deliveries by Nance, 12 by Nicholson and three by a Wilkes resident who wasn’t identified.
The papers said Patterson bought at least 20 cases of moonshine per delivery. Each case had six gallons, so it was a total of at least 120 gallons per delivery.
Nance, Anderson and Nicholson were indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by tax evasion and to travel and cause others to travel in interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful business enterprise involving untaxed liquor. They also are charged with producing and receiving untaxed liquor. They face other related charges in the indictment. The three were arrested Aug. 19 and released on bond.
Ray and Patterson are both charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and cause others to travel in interstate commerce and to use a telephone in interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful business enterprise involving untaxed liquor. Patterson was charged with knowingly receiving untaxed liquor.
A U.S. District Court spokesman said Friday that a signed plea agreement with Ray has been filed for his charges, but a formal plea hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet.
The spokesman said Patterson pleaded guilty to his charges on Sept. 14 and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond. A sentencing date hasn’t been set.