PERU, Ind. – Three bottles of wine for $20, detectives say that was the going rate for the wine made at a Peru apartment. Police arrested Kevin Kaufmann, 46 and Brian Blackman, 45. The roommates are accused of manufacturing and selling alcoholic beverages.
“It is kind of an unusual case,” explains Bruce Embrey, Miami County Prosecutor.
Indiana State Excise Police Officers seized over 250 bottles filled with homemade alcoholic beverages, over 450 empty alcoholic beverage bottles, alcohol testing equipment, equipment used to make alcoholic beverages, drug paraphernalia, suspected marijuana, suspected meth and $1,500 in cash.
Investigators released pictures allegedly showing the inside of the Peru apartment. One picture shows a sign that says ‘Welcome to the Slapberry Winery.” Another picture shows handwritten notes taped on bottles labeling the alcohol content.
“It looked like an operation that had been going on for a while,” explains Embrey.
The investigation started when police received a tip from a concerned citizen. One of the men supposedly sold some of their homemade alcohol to an undercover officer.
Indiana has some of the strictest alcohol laws in the country. Cold beer can’t be sold in convenience stores and only bars and restaurants can sell it on Sunday.
“The alcoholic beverage laws in Indiana are pretty schizophrenic,” explains Embrey.
Miami County Prosecutor Bruce Embrey says it is not illegal to make your own wine. It is illegal when you start selling it and it could be dangerous to whoever is buying it.
“You don’t know how it was made? You don’t know what is in it? You don’t know the sanitary nature of the process? It’s just a risk,” explains Embrey.
According to court documents, when Kaufmann was questioned he admitted that he manufactured alcoholic beverages in his residence but denied selling them.
Kaufmann and Blackman are each facing charges including drug possession, drug paraphernalia, selling untaxed alcoholic beverages without a permit and maintaining and common nuisance.