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Police arrest alleged moonshiners who kept making 'legendary' recipe

Bret Pallotto
Centre Daily Times (TNS)

A Centre County couple was charged Wednesday after a nearly yearlong, undercover investigation into allegations they've illegally produced and sold moonshine from their home for more than three decades.

Glenn McCleester, 79, and Barbara McCleester, 65, were charged after they told an investigator from the state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement they couldn't make enough moonshine to keep up with demand.

The investigation kicked off in April after the alleged bootleggers invited the officer into their home to tout the quality of their moonshine. The recipe, Barbara McCleester said, came from "legendary moonshiner" and late NASCAR driver Junior Johnson.

McCleester poured some moonshine on their kitchen table and lit it on fire to show that it burned blue, not orange, an officer wrote in an affidavit of probable cause.

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"She explained that when the orange color could be seen in the flames that this would be impurities in the product and would cause a hangover after being consumed and that her moonshine was the purest around," the officer wrote.

The McCleesters were accused of selling $60 jugs of moonshine to the undercover officer four times between April and January.

Pennsylvania State Police communications director Lt. Adam Reed defended the investigation Thursday, saying the moonshine operation could have been "fairly lucrative."

A defense lawyer was not listed.

Each were charged with one misdemeanor count of manufacturing and selling liquor without a liquor license. Glenn McCleester was also charged with three misdemeanor count of unlawful sales of liquor, while Barbara McCleester faces one charge.

Each has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Feb. 15.