Mar 09, 2023

Middlesex raid turns up moonshine operation

MIDDLESEX — On Route 33 past St. Clare Walker Middle School, Will Rogers ran a motorcycle repair business called "The Chop Shop" where a recent raid turned up more than the standard fluids such as oils and lubricants.

The authorities found moonshine.

Capt. Mickey Sampson of the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office said it's been at least 15 years since a moonshine raid went down in the county.

Sheriff's deputies and a Virginia State Police tactical team went to Rogers’ shop on Dec. 21 following an investigation into a shooting that allegedly occurred there on Dec. 15. On that day, Rogers and a friend, Jared Congleton, had been drinking all day and were arguing over a woman, according to search warrant affidavits filed in Middlesex County Circuit Court.

Congleton was in his pickup when Rogers walked out of his shop with a shotgun, according to court documents. Congleton threw the pickup in reverse just before Rogers squeezed off a load of pellets that busted up his windshield, according to court documents.

Congleton was unhurt and drove his pickup to the Middlesex Sheriff's Office, where lead pellets and a shotgun wad were recovered. Following an investigation, and after picking up a tip that Rogers might be in the alcohol manufacturing business, law enforcement returned to Rogers’ shop, Sampson said.

But sometimes tips don't hold water.

"Law enforcement never knows what's going to be on the other side of the door," Sampson said.

This one panned out, though. Among the items seized by a Virginia ABC investigator were two 15 1/2 –gallon kegs with copper pipe fittings, a submersible pump with bucket and glass jar, various pipes, valves and tubing, a nylon stocking and filter, two open two-pound bags of sugar and a milk jug and one-liter bottle containing a liquid substance, according to court documents.

They also retrieved four samples of mash taken from a barrel.

It was pretty clear to Sampson what was going on with all the seized items.

"I didn't think he was changing oil out of them," Sampson said.

Rogers, 34, has been jailed on charges of attempted malicious wounding, malicious shooting and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, according to court records. Additional charges are pending.

He has a court appearance scheduled for Jan. 7.

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