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ABC raids alleged shot houses

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com · 340-2355

Alabama Beverage Control agents raided two houses this week in Decatur, seizing liquor and beer they allege were being sold without a license.

The houses were in the same neighborhood. Authorities raided at least one of them in the past.

ABC Lt. Leslie Woodall said Preston Bo Elliott Jr. was not at his 724 Lafayette St. N.W. home when agents entered Wednesday at 6 p.m. and seized two gallons of moonshine whiskey, other liquors and two ounces of marijuana.

Agent Steven Ziaja said Elliott, 64, had 100 beers stored in a refrigerator and several hundred empty beer cans in garbage cans around the residence.

Homemade wine found

Agents also found homemade wine and fruit in the process of fermenting to make wine, Ziaja said. Authorities did not file any charges related to the wine and fruit.

Agents obtained warrants charging Elliott with selling alcohol without a liquor license, possession of illegally manufactured alcohol and second-degree possession of marijuana. They arrested Elliott on Thursday afternoon on those warrants and took him to Morgan County Jail, where he was released on $1,500 bond.

Agents also arrested a 42-year-old Trinity man who was at the residence, charging him with second-degree possession of marijuana.

At nearby 737 Sykes St. N.W., agents arrested Peggy Jean Gilbert on charges of selling alcohol without a license.

Ziaja said agents did not jail Gilbert. They issued her citations and released her.

Several people were drinking at Gilbert’s residence when agents went in and seized three cases of beer and four bottles of liquor, Ziaja said.

“Both locations had small plastic cups consistent with a shot glass,” Ziaja said. “That’s what they sell the shots in.”

Woodall said his agency conducted the raids simultaneously due to the proximity of the homes, which are about one block apart.

ABC obtained search warrants after undercover agents purchased alcohol from both houses, Woodall said.

Neither location has ever applied for a liquor license, he said.

Decatur police arrested Gilbert on similar charges following an undercover operation in 1997. She was convicted of selling alcohol without a license and possessing alcohol with intent to sell without a license, both misdemeanors.

In a 2004 police report, a man who had allegedly been stabbed at Gilbert’s residence referred to it as “Peggy Jean’s shot house.”

In June 2006, Gilbert, then 72, told The Daily that she did not operate a shot house but that she had a lot of relatives and visitors.

“I just like the company, someone being around all the time,” she said. “There’s no alcohol sales here, just some drinking, mostly on weekends.”

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