'Pop' goes the moonshiner

Excerpted from the Associated Press:

GREENEVILLE, TN -- A federal judge turned aside public pleas for leniency and sentenced famed Appalachian moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton (right) to 18 months in [federal] prison.

The 62-year-old Parrottsville author of the book "Me and My Likker" was sentenced ... for illegally producing distilled spirits and being a felon in possession of a handgun. ...

The Greeneville Sun reported that hundreds of people from North Carolina and Tennessee signed petitions supporting Sutton. "We trust him in any matters of great importance in our everyday lives and would welcome him as a neighbor," the petitions said.

But the judge doubted many would think that placing a man convicted five times on probation again would serve their interests. Most would say, "No," he said.

Sutton has been running afoul of the law at least since 1974, when he was charged by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with multiple violations of liquor tax laws. He was convicted in 1981 and 1985 in Haywood County, NC, on charges of possessing controlled substances and assault with a deadly weapon.

In 2007, firefighters putting out a fire at his Parrottsville property discovered 650 gallons of untaxed alcohol, leading to a probationary sentence from Cocke County for untaxed liquor.

In March 2008, he told an undercover agent he had 500 gallons of moonshine in Tennessee and 400 gallons in Maggie Valley, N.C., ready for sale. Federal authorities arrested him days later, leading to Monday's charges.

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