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Thompson fought the lawman, won

Sheriff Crockarell was supposed to destroy the moonshine still, not keep it.

October 28, 2007|Joe Mathews

In August 1970, Sheriff Charles Crockarell of Stewart County, Tenn., took part in the bust of a moonshine operation, which later led to his own conviction on moonshining-related charges -- prosecuted by then-Assistant U.S. Atty. Fred Thompson.

A local newspaper said the apparatus, which held 350 gallons of home brew, was one of the largest ever seen in the county.

Such confiscated stills were supposed to be destroyed. But three months later, the same still was discovered on Crockarell's property, along with confiscated whiskey. A family of moonshiners testified that Crockarell had sold them the still but let them operate it on his property.

The sheriff was indicted in U.S. District Court in Nashville on conspiracy and other violations of liquor laws. The first case ended in a mistrial, but Thompson won a conviction of the sheriff in June 1972.

Crockarell, who maintained his innocence, served four months of a two-year sentence, according to court records. He died 14 years ago.

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-- Joe Mathews

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