A Newton couple were indicted in federal court here Tuesday on charges of operating a moonshine still in the basement of their home, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Ryan Penner, 41, and Jennifer Penner, 37, both of Newton, were charged with one count of possession of an unregistered still, one count of unlawful production of distilled spirits, and one count of failing to be bonded as a distiller.

The indictment alleges the Penners produced moonshine, which is illegal liquor on which federal and state excise taxes have not been paid.

The indictment alleges the investigation began in August when the Newton Police Department learned the defendants were producing and selling moonshine from their home in the 1000 block of E. 7th in Newton. Undercover officers made several purchases. A quart of moonshine typically sold for $20. Police served a search warrant at the home and seized a still built around a 15.5-gallon beer keg with metal legs and copper tubing.

If convicted, they face up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. The Newton Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives and the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster is prosecuting.

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