Pilot pleads guilty in bootlegging case
A case of beer and a rolex watches for sale bottle of whiskey cost the owner of Ambler Air Service $55,000 this week. “This is one of the most expensive drinks in history,” said Shannon Eddy, a state prosecutor who works solely on bootlegging cases for the state.
Prosecutors say pilot David L. Rue’s blue Piper Lance was about to take off from Fairbanks for the dry village of Ambler when police found the booze in his bag.
The case against Rue is one of the roughly 200 bootlegging prosecutions each year in Alaska, where local villages and towns vote on whether to allow sale, importation or possession of alcohol.
A state judge sentenced Rue to 20 days in jail, fined his company $20,000 and took the plane.
The company paid $35,000 to get it back.
Across the state, alcohol makes it into dry villages in more ways than one, said Virginia Commack, general manager for the Native Village of Ambler.
And it will keep happening, she said. “It’s very difficult, without law enforcement in the villages, to enforce this law.”
POLICE TIPPED OFF
Ambler is a community of about 300 people roughly 140 miles northeast of Kotzebue. Ambler Air Service is based there, with Rue listed as one of three owners.
Rue said it’s a one plane, one pilot operation that has been in business since 1975, carrying passengers and cargo to villages such as Shungnak, Huslia and Allakaket.
“During the past eight to 10 years, law enforcement agencies . have had numerous tips regarding Ambler Air and passengers transporting alcohol and/or other controlled substances,” said Eddy, the prosecutor.
On March 21, Fairbanks airport police fielded two such tips, according to charging documents. Word was a passenger packing alcohol or drugs would be flying on Ambler Air from Fairbanks to Ambler or Shungnak another village that bans importation. But airport police asked troopers for help, and soon an undercover trooper watched Rue as he began to load the plane.
Passengers arrived. They found several bottles of liquor, big and small.
Prosecutors only charged Rue with the alcohol found in a bag he was seen loading on the plane.
As of Thursday, none of the passengers three adults and a 17 year old girl had been charged with any crime. Eddy declined to name the passengers, saying the investigation co rolex watches for sale ntinues.
Prosecutors don’t think Rue planned to sell the alcohol in Ambler, where Eddy es rolex watches for sale timated some bottles of whiskey can go rolex watches for sale for $250 to $350.
According to Eddy and the charging documents, the 17 year old passenger said Rue told her to say the Natural Ice beer and Early Times whiskey in the white game bag was hers. But confronted with video of Rue buying the alcohol at a Fairbanks Fred Meyer, she changed her story, the documents say.