Rainsville mayor: Employee suspended without pay during investigation into illegal winery at waste water treatment plant

Stay with WAAY 31 for updates.

Posted: Dec 18, 2020 11:12 AM
Updated: Dec 18, 2020 5:25 PM

UPDATE: Rainsville Mayor Roger Lingerfelt said one employee is suspended without pay pending the outcome of this investigation.

He said he received a call from the sheriff’s office at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, saying they needed access to the treatment plant.

Part of what the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office described as an illegal winery that was discovered at the Rainsville Waste Water Treatment Plant on Thursday, December 17, 2020. (Courtesy: DCSO)

"The wastewater treatment plant is one of those things that you go down there and you see most of it, but you don't see every little corner, and this was off in an area where we never did go," said Rodger Lingerfelt, City of Rainsville Mayor.

According to Lingerfelt, it’s believed only one employee was involved in the illegal operation. There are four employees, in total, that work at the plant.

"Devastated, you got some kind of problem going on like that and you don't know about it, and it's just hard to take this," said Rodger Lingerfelt, City of Rainsville Mayor.

"Once the door was opened and you went inside, it was shocking. It was shocking at what you seen. It definitely, It definitely wasn't something you were expecting to see at a public building like that," said Nick Welden, DeKalb County Sheriff. 

From earlier:

The mayor of Rainsville is holding a news conference Friday afternoon to provide an update on a "large illegal winery" at the Rainsville Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Multiple local and state agencies are investigating after the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office said they were tipped off about the illegal winery.

On Thursday, investigators received an anonymous tip about the operation and coordinated with Mayor Roger Lingerfelt to gain access to the facility.

Once inside, they discovered what they described as a "large amount of illegal alcohol and a winery which appeared to be in operation for a long period of time."

Agents with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the State Bureau of Investigation were brought in to assist with the investigation. The sheriff's office said charges are expected in this case.

Stay with WAAY 31 on air and online for updates.

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