The VFW Post 5202 closed in late May this year without warning. However, a little more than a month later, officials with the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s Alcohol Law Enforcement division arrested four post employees and two patrons.
Come to find out, ALE agents had begun investigating at the post in November of last year for alcohol- and gambling-related crimes. Among the allegations was dealing with lotteries, selling non-tax-paid liquor (moonshine), selling liquor and mixed beverages without a permit, and allowing punchboards on the premise.
The ALE division received a complaint about the VFW Post, which spurred its investigation.
“Somebody gets mad. A member gets mad,” said Allen Page, special agent in charge with the Asheville ALE office. “Then, they start telling on everybody else.”
Page added that the department typically works off citizen complaints and that such activities are not atypical for lodges, VFW or other membership-only clubs.
“It’s a common occurrences in this type of establishments,” Page said.
The VFW Post in Waynesville only has an alcohol permit for the sale of wine and malt beverages. Patrons can also brown-bag up to eight liters of fortified wine or liquor for personal consumption. However, as a result of the investigation, ALE agents alleged that the establishment was selling liquor and mixed drinks without the proper state permit.
From November 2012 to March 2013, an undercover ALE agent visited the Waynesville VFW multiple times and ordered Jack Daniels and Cokes from the different bartenders on duty. During his visits, he was also played tabs and punchboards, which are illegal.
Only nonprofits such as churches can legally offer raffles, but even they can only hold them twice a year. With the exception of the casino in Cherokee and the nonprofit raffles, the only form of legal gambling in North Carolina is the state-run lottery.
Toward the end of the investigation, the undercover ALE agent met a VFW patron who offered to sell him 12 quarts of apple-flavored moonshine. He also found out that one of the bartenders sold moonshine as well.
The ALE investigation concluded last month when six people were arrested.
And after more than two months being closed, the VFW Post reopened last weekend with new staff. Officials with the state VFW refused to talk about the investigation or its findings.
“At this time, we have no comment,” said Ernie Allis, state commander of the VFW department.
Allis would not comment on why the organization decided to close and then later reopen the post.
In the investigation report, VFW’s District 17 commander Skip Hall stated that the Waynesville post was taken over by the state VFW. Hall also noted that he did not condone the actions of the employees or management.
The state ABC Commission’s attorneys are currently reviewing the investigation report and deciding whether to take further action.
Upon completion of an investigation by the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s Alcohol Law Enforcement division, six people were charged in connection with illegal activities at the Waynesville’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.
VFW employees Kimberly White Greene, Stephanie Johnson Jenson, Theresa Wallick Kirkpatrick and Gary Marc Gibbs are all charged with:
• Selling liquor without permits
• Dealing in lotteries
• Allowing gambling in houses of public entertainment
• Allowing punchboards on premise
Greene and Gibbs are also charged with selling non-tax-paid liquor. Gibbs is the only employee accused of possessing non-tax-paid liquor.
VFW patrons Bobby Joe Rathbone and Timothy David Norris are both charged with selling non-tax-paid liquor and possessing non-tax-paid liquor. Rathbone is additionally accused of selling (liquor) without permits.
All the individuals charged, with the exception of Jenson, have prior criminal records.