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May 22, 2015 – The alleged ringleader of a group charged with stealing Bourbon from Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey distilleries pleaded not guilty today at arraignment hearings in Frankfort. Former Buffalo Trace employee Gilbert Curtsinger and eight other suspects in the case were indicted last month by a Franklin County Grand Jury on various charges including receiving stolen property, participating in an organized criminal syndicate, trafficking in controlled substances, and possessing drug paraphernalia. The suspects are charged with selling whiskey stolen from the distilleries through connections made at softball tournaments, and several face charges of dealing in anabolic steroids.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Curtsinger and his wife, Julie Curtsinger, pleaded not guilty at their first arraignment hearing to the stolen property and drug charges, while Christopher Preston pleaded not guilty to a single charge of trafficking in a controlled substance. All three went before a second judge later in the day along with defendants Joshua Preston and Robert McKinney, where the five pleaded not guilty to the charge of participating in an organized criminal syndicate. Two others indicted in the case face arraignment hearings May 29, along with the most recent suspect indicted in the case. Former Buffalo Trace security guard Leslie Wright was indicted earlier this week on charges of complicity in the theft of full barrels from Buffalo Trace, though she is said to be cooperating with investigators. The cases are expected to be consolidated before one judge before trials begin, however, no trial dates have been set.
Two other defendants have already pleaded guilty to misdemeanor conspiracy charges in connection with the case. Ronnie Lee Hubbard and Shaun Ballard have agreed to testify against the other suspects when those cases go to trial, and prosecutors are expected to recommend that both be sentenced to probation in exchange for their cooperation.