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Lugoff man arrested for making ‘moonshine’

Posted: September 17, 2015 5:32 p.m.
Updated: September 18, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Provided by the KCSO/

Inside Branham’s illegal distilling operation. Sheriff Jim Matthews said it has been decades since authorities have seized a liquor still in Kershaw County.

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Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) narcotics investigators arrested a Lugoff man Wednesday afternoon after finding an illegal liquor-making operation on Barlow Drive.

According to a KCSO press release, investigators received a tip early in the week claiming William Leonard “Joe” Branham, of Barlow Drive, Lugoff, had a distilling operation on his property. Deputies watched Branham and saw him going in and out of an outbuilding with equipment and supplies used to make illegal liquor. They reported the wind shifted at one point allowing the distinct odor of “mash” to blow their way.

Deputies approached the building and saw Branham making moonshine through an open door. The deputies identified themselves and Branham invited them inside, saying “How can I help you boys?”

Branham consented to a search of the building and deputies found the ingredients needed to make moonshine, along with 48 bottles of assorted flavors of suspected illegal liquor. Branham said he could make up to 13 gallons of liquor a month and sold it for $20 a quart.

Deputies reported also finding a notebook with a list of Branham’s suspected customers. Branham is charged with possession of a working distillery for the purpose of manufacturing prohibited alcoholic liquors, which carries a maximum sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of no less than $600 for a first offense. Branham has no previous arrests.

“As far as some of my deputies who have been with the KCSO for nearly 20 years, they tell me that this is the first liquor still seized in Kershaw County in decades,” Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said.

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