The owner of two Greene County wineries is behind bars, after an extensive investigation discovered she was producing and selling wine without a permit.
On Thursday, August 2nd, the Indiana State Excise Police completed their investigation into the wineries, which lead to the arrest Cheryl Riddle of Greene County, Indiana.
The investigation stemmed from a series of anonymous complaints to the ISEP office back in May, alleging a winery in Linton were producing and selling variety of alcoholic beverages without a permit.
Officials say the owner, Riddle, owned a legal winery in Bloomfield called the Huckleberry Hill Winery, but had nothing on record about a location in Linton.
An ISEP officer visited the establishment and met with Riddle to ask about the location and the business being conducted. Riddle told the officer that the location had just opened and was a “satellite location” for her Bloomfield winery.
The officer asked she had a permit to sell wine at the new location, to which she said she had applied but had yet to receive it. The officer then advised her to cease all business transactions at the Linton location until she receives her permit. She agreed and closed the building the following day.
In June, ISEP officials say they were still receiving complaints about alcohol being sold at the Linton winery, even though it was reported to have been closed.
An undercover investigation into the business was initiated in July, where two ISEP officers went to establishment to learn more about the business practices of the location.
Riddle served the two undercover officers samples of their wine, and told them she produced the wine, offered wine tastings and sold bottles at that location. The officers noticed that the bottles were being sold relatively cheap without collecting tax.
Both officers reported their findings to the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, and were issued a search warrant to investigate and seize records, documents and evidence at the location.
A large group of officers returned to the establishment, and conducted a interview with Riddle to get more concrete evidence of her business.
She told officers that she does not produce wine at the Linton location, and that all bottles she has sold was of her own collection she had bought.
After interviewing staff and relatives of the owner, they learned that she was indeed selling unlabeled wine at the restaurant. They had also discovered several pieces of evidence linking her to the manufacture and sale of alcohol.
Officers asked her if she had a permit to do all of this, to which she replied no. When asked how long she had been doing this at the Linton location, she told them since June 2017.
Riddle was arrested and transported to the Greene County Jail. She faces several charges including possession of untaxed beverages, making and selling an alcoholic beverage without a permit, and unauthorized dealings.