To read On the Bourbon Trail chronologically, click here , scroll down to the first June entry or go to June on the archive calendar.
Once the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office gave a press conference attended by all the bigger media outlets which included the WSJ, The New York Times, regional TV and then me, the local news hack, tips and more stolen barrels started rolling in.
After sheriff detectives interviewed former police officer Mike Wells and following his resignation, some of the other alleged accomplices, outside of those indicted, in the “crime ring” started speaking.
The big pins in the group had been struck, and even though the bourbon had been confiscated, witness testimony started pouring out freely.
Sean Searcy and Toby Curtsinger used two barns for one bourbon trail — their alleged means for storage, distribution and sale of an estimated $80k – $100,000 of stolen bourbon.
Searcy had a truck distribution route for Wild Turkey. He made barrel deliveries from the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg to Camp Nelson in Nicholasville.
Conveniently, a barn owned by his father was along his route near the distillery.
Searcy would allegedly load a few extra barrels, stop at his father’s home in Lawrenceburg and roll those barrels out of the truck on an aluminum ladder into the barn.
Investigators extracted text messages from his phone describing “arrangements for the transfer of the barrels and the price negotiations.”
Those messages revealed at least 16 barrels Searcy allegedly stole from Oct. 20 to Dec. 20, 2014. He would “then make arrangements for Toby (Curtsinger) to retrieve them and sell them.”
Curtsinger borrowed someone else’s barn for storage of the Buffalo Trace barrels. The coveted Pappy Van Winkle though, he allegedly stored on his own property.
Promising the owner of the barn on South Scruggs Lane near Elkhorn Creek money and possibly some bourbon, Curtsinger may have stored at least 11 barrels from Buffalo Trace there. But according to an accomplice, he could have stored a lot more.
True or not, many testimonials repeat a common thread: Curtsinger would promise them money or bourbon for their assistance, but never followed through.
One accomplice confessed to investigators he helped Curtsinger steal 11 barrels from Buffalo Trace and loaded them onto his truck.
After I wrote an article which included this incident, the accomplice (who I will write about later to include his side of the story) contacted me at my office confirming to me that it did happen and that he didn’t have a choice. But that story will come later.
Just a taste of estimated $
Curtsinger told the accomplice to hide in the backseat of his truck on two separate occasions.
Curtsinger allegedly bribed a security guard to let him through the gate saying he was only taking empty stainless steel barrels and scrapping them for cash.
Using a forklift in the middle of the night, they loaded 11 barrels on to his truck. Curtsinger paid his passenger $4,500-$5,000 in cash for the help.
The security guard only received $800 for letting him through.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Zach Becker said later Franklin County Sheriff’s detectives recovered one of these barrels in full and the “contents of it were determined to be a 17-year-old Eagle Rare commemorative edition bourbon that was worth $500 per gallon at 23 gallons. So approximately just less than $12,000 alone.”
Later on the trail…
How far did the distribution of the coveted Pappy Van Winkle elixir and other stolen bourbon reach…
Oh and later Frankfort Mayor William May’s request…