9 people indicted in high-profile bourbon heists

Bourbon heist timeline
More than 200 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle were stolen in October 2013. (Source: Gordon Boyd, WAVE 3 News)
More than 200 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle were stolen in October 2013. (Source: Gordon Boyd, WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Nine people, including three distillery workers, were indicted on Tuesday in a massive bourbon heist that attracted international attention.

Prosecutors said the the group's scheme lasted for years and involved tens of thousands of dollars worth of whiskey.

An employee of Wild Turkey and two employees of Buffalo Trace Distillery are among the nine people indicted in an alleged organized crime ring that authorities said dates back seven years.

Zack Becker, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, said the nine were operating from Franklin County since 2008 as members of the criminal syndicate.

Gilbert "Toby" Curtsinger, 45, a Buffalo Trace employee from Frankfort, is accused of being the operation's ringleader. Authorities believe he stole at least five barrels of Wild Turkey bourbon with the help of the Wild Turkey employee. Curtsinger's wife, Julie Curtsinger, 44, was also indicted.

In October 2013, a large amount of Pappy Van Winkle was stolen from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Several bottles linked to Curtsinger have been recovered, authorities said.

The group is also accused of trafficking in anabolic steroids on a continuing basis.

In addition to the Curtsingers, a grand jury also indicted the following people in the case:

  • Mark S. Searcy, 49, of Lawrenceburg
  • Ronnie Lee Hubbard, 37, of Georgetown, KY
  • Dusty H. Adkins, 42, of Georgetown, KY
  • Christopher L. Preston, 45, of Frankfort
  • Joshua T. Preston, 23, of Frankfort
  • Robert M. McKinney
  • Shawn E. Ballard

Authorities say Curtsinger was the common link and the others involved acted to establish and maintain the criminal syndicate.

On March 11, 2015, police recovered five barrels from the Curtsinger home. An additional 12 barrels were recovered from locations in Scott, Harrison and Laurel counties.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said investigators in many counties, along with the State of Indiana Excise Police and US Postal Service inspectors, worked hard on the case, but also said the indictments would not have been possible without investigative resources made available by Attorney General Jack Conway's office.


January 1, 2008: Franklin County Sheriff's Office said the nine members of the criminal syndicate collaborated to engage in organized crime.

October 15, 2013: 195 bottles of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle and nine cases of 13-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Rye, worth around $26,000 total, were stolen from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort.

October 23, 2013: Franklin County's Sheriff's Office released surveillance video of a man they thought might be connected to the disappearance of $25,000 of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.

October 2013: Sheriff's Office identifies Bardstown High School Principal as a person of interest in the case.

November 2013: Authorities said Chris Pickett, the person of interest after thousands of dollars' worth of liquor bottles were stolen from a distillery has been cleared.

December 2013: Sheriff Melton offers $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in stolen liquor.

March 11, 2015: Franklin County Sheriff's Office recovers five barrels of Wild Turkey Bourbon at the home of Toby and Julie Curtsinger

April 2015: Nine individuals indicted on charges of organized crime - a conspiracy to steal and sell bourbon and to sell steroids

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