Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Neal Hutcheson reports from courtroom: Prosecution was "petty and vindictive" against Popcorn Sutton, sought to put "sick and broken" man in prison

Yesterday this blog conveyed the news about famed moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton (shown at right along with public defender Tim Moore) getting sentenced to 18 months in prison during a federal court hearing in Greeneville, Tennessee.

In the past 24 hours I have seen some positively unbridled fury from supporters of Popcorn Sutton, including on sites like Facebook (home to no less than three groups for people who believe the government should have left him alone to ply his trade in peace). The general consensus is that Popcorn wasn't harming anyone, and that the federal government has set out to "make an example" out of him, lest anyone else think that they should assert some liberty on their own. There are even some individuals who are publicly suggesting that perhaps a "storming the Bastille" is in order. I'm not gonna endorse or condemn such thoughts... but I am gonna pass along something that is no doubt going to make a lot of people even madder than they already are!

Neal Hutcheson is a well-known name not just across North Carolina, but throughout the southeastern United States and the rest of the country. He's a documentary filmmaker based out of the Raleigh area. Among his many credits are Mountain Talk and Voices of North Carolina, which have both featured appearances by Popcorn Sutton. More recently Hutcheson dedicated an entire film to Sutton and his art in The Last One. I've come to know him lately ever since he sent over a DVD of The Last One (and I just got it back last week, 'cuz everyone that I know practically has been wanting to borrow and see it for themselves!). Hutcheson has built up a solid reputation among the folks in this region and if he reports on something, I'm more than inclined to say that his word will be held as bond.

Well, Neal Hutcheson was in the courtroom yesterday when Popcorn Sutton had his sentence handed down. And earlier today Neal sent along the following report. I asked him if I could share it here for this blog's readers and Neal said "please do". So here it is, in his own words...

"You should know that the prosecution used a video clip made twenty years ago (of him capping a still) to make the case that Popcorn was strong enough to continue making liquor. The judge made it explicitly clear that the idea that he would resume operations if he was let out on probation was behind the rationale that he needed a prison term to stop him. The prosecution knew of course that the clip wasn't made last week, and that his health plus house-arrest & monitoring would be more than enough to prevent him from doing anything prohibited, as the past ten months of house arrest has proved. So, if you leave aside the debate about whether moonshining is a serious offense or not, and take the government's case at face value, the public would have been 'protected' & served without putting a sick man in prison. What the prosecution did was petty and vindictive: The sick and broken man they saw in that trial wasn't putting on an act; I had been with him for three days and that was the best he had looked in all that time.

"I just think people should know what happened there. The litmus test here is for people to substitute moonshining for something else they don't sympathize with, you know just lay all that aside, and ask if it was necessary, as the prosecution insisted, to lay prison time on him. Obviously it wasn't. He's been under house arrest and monitoring for ten months and, along with his health, its kept him from doing anything prohibited.

"The judge did question the age of the video, so that thought came up. But the prosecution was directly implying that the video demonstrated he was capable and because of that could not be deterred from making moonshine without a prison term. And that was disingenuous. And they knew it. The fact is that Popcorn had embarrassed them for a long time."

So... apparently the prosecutors used "evidence" that didn't pertain at all to this particular case in order to malign Sutton, and they convinced the judge to deliver a harsh sentence even knowing that Sutton is not currently in the best of health.

Does anybody else think that there is something horribly out of kilter with the "justice" of this situation?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

f-ck the government! FREE POPCORN!

Tyler said...

Popcorn Sutton is being persecuted for one reason. He is not Walmart and if more Americans follow his example then the government can't get their 'cut' of the money.

Is anyone asking how much it cost to arrest, try and imprison Popcorn weighed against the 'taxable' money that the government claims it lost by his brewing?

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Bernard Madoff stole fifty billion dollars and is under house arrest in a posh New York City penthouse. He won't see a day in prison I'll bet you. But Popcorn Sutton for stealing from NO ONE gets hard time.

As the first guy said, f-ck this government.

FREE POPCORN!

Anonymous said...

Bush is a bastard for not pardoning him. Popcorn is a great man. I am happy to have met him. This is very sad.

All his friends and fans should step up to the plate and help his wife make ends meet while Popcorn is away.

Anonymous said...

The law is an ass...people have hung to cover that ass.

bourbonbob said...

How can they justify the use of video from 20 years ago, sounds to me like he was sentenced before it went to court.

Anonymous said...

How could Bush have pardoned him?
"Popcorn" was convicted after Bush was out of office.

Why not ask for a pardon from the great Barack Obama?

It would appear that this is something he would be get behind.

yes? no?

Anonymous said...

What a disgusting Nation USA is - "punishing" an old man on "prosecutor's" evidence.

Chris Knight said...

Sutton had no choice but to plead guilty, but that was all the way back last April. So he's had the conviction but the sentencing was delayed twice. That's why he's only now getting the prison term.

Anonymous said...

Too bad he had a public defender. If he could have afforded a high rolling attorney, this wouldn't have happened.

Land of the Free? MY ASS

Anonymous said...

Popcorn kept pushing the envelope and he lost. He caught himself. The law didn't target him. His arrogant mouth got him caught. So much for sympathy. If you don't like a law, change it; if you can't change it, abide by it; if you can't abide by it, suffer the consequences in silence and don't blame someone else for your stupidity

Anonymous said...

that film was not 20 years old, it was made less than a decade ago, he even mentions in it that he was busted either in 97 or 98? so someone needs to count correctly. and he also claimed in that film that he wasn't gonna be around the next 5 years...how much longer is the last leg plea gonna hold out?
do any of you remember the story of the Pied Piper?

Neal said...

My counting IS off - the film used in the courtroom to demonstrate that Popcorn was healthy enough to continue making moonshine was made in 1991. I should have said "nearly" 20 years ago. Popcorn did attract the interest of the ATF by reputation, according to the testimony presented at his trial on the 26th, but they did not catch him until his stillhouse burned and the fire dept was called to his residence, and in turn they were required to notify the ATF. The ATF watched him closely after that (again, by their admission in court testimony) and did, literally, target him with a sting operation involving an undercover buyer who systematically earned Sutton's trust. I understand that not everyone will sympathize with him or what he's done, but the comments above are mistaken on these points of fact.

Neal said...

Actually, the footage of Popcorn making moonshine in a 50 gallon still in the woods (from The Last Dam Run of Likker..., The Last One) is only seven years old, so that is probably what the comment above refers to. This was not brought in as evidence against him at his trial. I think there was a good reason for that, but its beside the point. The footage of a healthy and able Sutton climbing up to cap a still was home video material from 1991, and, as I mentioned, was used primarily to undermine Tim Moore's defense that Popcorn was in poor health and should be allowed to serve his time under house-arrest and not in prison.

steve said...

Thanx Popcorn for the info that you have givin all of us......

Anonymous said...

I have always liked Popcorn, known him most of my life, not to mention his parents, good people. I didn't want him to get any time either. I do want to say though that I thought Popcorn was given a pat on the back. I did nearly a ten year sentence for growing a few pot plants. Eighteen months is nothing given the fact that he was given credit for time served on house arrest and that continues to run until they tell him when and where to report. He won't be gone over 3 or 4 months, would be a good chance for him to quit smoking. What happened to the gun by a felon charge? That carries ten years in Federal court!! What about the three years suspended sentence he was under? He must have sung like a canary, I figure they had to put a muzzel on him to shut him up. The feds don't just give out those lenient sentences. Those sentencing guidelines are tough and strict. He almost got nothing.

Neal said...

The Federal sentencing guidelines for the charges against him, to all of which he had plead guilty, are 18 - 24 months.

Anonymous said...

as far as the credit for time served goes it wasnt granted only the ten days he spent in greene county jail i was in the court room was you if not GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT if you knowed popcorn as good as you say you would know the shape of his health again get your shit straight

Anonymous said...

You need to read up on the Federal Sentencing guidelines regarding a conviction of a felon in possession of a firearm, as well as other charges popcorn was facing. You are the one that needs to get his shit straight. I ain't got no sympothy for a man that goes around bragging and boasting and making his private business everybodys else's business. I know he is in bad health and like I said, I don't want to see anybody get any time in prison unless they really deserve it for shit like child molestation, Murder, rape, etc. Our local paper said he would be given credit for house arrest and that would be up until he reports to prison. You ever been to prison? I'd like to shove a quart lickker jar up your ass and get you ready for it you piece of shit. You bad mouth me for nothing.
I understand what Neil said, yes the Federal sentencing guidelines for the charges he plead to were probably 18-24 months ! The key word here is Plead. He was offered a plea which means they worked out a deal for him.
Here is what the offical charges carried in Federal court.
Legendary moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, 61, of Haywood County was arrested and charged with making moonshine in March 2008. He faces three charges related to the manufacture and possession of selling untaxed whiskey and one charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison on the firearms count and up to 5 years in prison for each of the moonshining counts. He faces up to a $250,000 fine on each count, according to the news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Anonymous said...

wake up and smell the coffee people, not the moonshine!
funny how only each time he was arrested, his health became an issue, he seemed not only to be healthy enough to run a still back in 1991, and before that, but also in 2008, and have running more than one still, and even bigger than before...
focus on the truth!
when one is put on for probation, it does not give one permission to yet go forward with such disregard for the law.
they made no example of him...he got by easier than you or I would of...stop this hero and legend crap! most of us know better!
it's a slap in the face to the real law abiding citizens.

Anonymous said...

to the first part keep your ass out of trouble you wont be in prison your drugs got you there get a job earn your livin and keep your family off welfare second of all nobodys making him a legendjust a man doin what he does to get by hell lets just legalize crystal meth thats what the countrys goin to drugs sold to kids on the street by people who live off the government he didnt that means alot to know he earned his keep wish more people would

Anonymous said...

watch Popcorn on Jackass clipping, that should show youall what kind of man he is.

Anonymous said...

to the comment above the last...
did he use any of that $$$$$$$ for support of his children? I think not! maybe they had to go on welfare? who do you think pays for that? a punch in job is hard work too, so what makes him above any other to have to pay taxes? get real...yeah, he earned his keep alright...

Anonymous said...

Neal, you obviously don't know a thing about how Popcorn caught himself. The ATF was contacted after the state agent made his contact with Popcorn and Popcorn bragged about his 'outfit and his product'. He was not 'targeted'- his loud and arrogant mouth got him. I know because I was with it from the initial contact in Middle Tennessee. ATF wasn't brought in until a week after the initial contact with Popcorn

Neal said...

I was going by what the witness for the prosecution said under oath at the sentencing. My mistake.

lla said...

china wholesale
cell phones
mobile phone
cheap cell phones wholesale
cosplay costumes
cheap cell phones
cheap cocktail dresses
Cheap Wedding Dresses

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Neal Hutcheson reports from courtroom: Prosecution was "petty and vindictive" against Popcorn Sutton, sought to put "sick and broken" man in prison

Yesterday this blog conveyed the news about famed moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton (shown at right along with public defender Tim Moore) getting sentenced to 18 months in prison during a federal court hearing in Greeneville, Tennessee.

In the past 24 hours I have seen some positively unbridled fury from supporters of Popcorn Sutton, including on sites like Facebook (home to no less than three groups for people who believe the government should have left him alone to ply his trade in peace). The general consensus is that Popcorn wasn't harming anyone, and that the federal government has set out to "make an example" out of him, lest anyone else think that they should assert some liberty on their own. There are even some individuals who are publicly suggesting that perhaps a "storming the Bastille" is in order. I'm not gonna endorse or condemn such thoughts... but I am gonna pass along something that is no doubt going to make a lot of people even madder than they already are!

Neal Hutcheson is a well-known name not just across North Carolina, but throughout the southeastern United States and the rest of the country. He's a documentary filmmaker based out of the Raleigh area. Among his many credits are Mountain Talk and Voices of North Carolina, which have both featured appearances by Popcorn Sutton. More recently Hutcheson dedicated an entire film to Sutton and his art in The Last One. I've come to know him lately ever since he sent over a DVD of The Last One (and I just got it back last week, 'cuz everyone that I know practically has been wanting to borrow and see it for themselves!). Hutcheson has built up a solid reputation among the folks in this region and if he reports on something, I'm more than inclined to say that his word will be held as bond.

Well, Neal Hutcheson was in the courtroom yesterday when Popcorn Sutton had his sentence handed down. And earlier today Neal sent along the following report. I asked him if I could share it here for this blog's readers and Neal said "please do". So here it is, in his own words...

"You should know that the prosecution used a video clip made twenty years ago (of him capping a still) to make the case that Popcorn was strong enough to continue making liquor. The judge made it explicitly clear that the idea that he would resume operations if he was let out on probation was behind the rationale that he needed a prison term to stop him. The prosecution knew of course that the clip wasn't made last week, and that his health plus house-arrest & monitoring would be more than enough to prevent him from doing anything prohibited, as the past ten months of house arrest has proved. So, if you leave aside the debate about whether moonshining is a serious offense or not, and take the government's case at face value, the public would have been 'protected' & served without putting a sick man in prison. What the prosecution did was petty and vindictive: The sick and broken man they saw in that trial wasn't putting on an act; I had been with him for three days and that was the best he had looked in all that time.

"I just think people should know what happened there. The litmus test here is for people to substitute moonshining for something else they don't sympathize with, you know just lay all that aside, and ask if it was necessary, as the prosecution insisted, to lay prison time on him. Obviously it wasn't. He's been under house arrest and monitoring for ten months and, along with his health, its kept him from doing anything prohibited.

"The judge did question the age of the video, so that thought came up. But the prosecution was directly implying that the video demonstrated he was capable and because of that could not be deterred from making moonshine without a prison term. And that was disingenuous. And they knew it. The fact is that Popcorn had embarrassed them for a long time."

So... apparently the prosecutors used "evidence" that didn't pertain at all to this particular case in order to malign Sutton, and they convinced the judge to deliver a harsh sentence even knowing that Sutton is not currently in the best of health.

Does anybody else think that there is something horribly out of kilter with the "justice" of this situation?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

f-ck the government! FREE POPCORN!

Tyler said...

Popcorn Sutton is being persecuted for one reason. He is not Walmart and if more Americans follow his example then the government can't get their 'cut' of the money.

Is anyone asking how much it cost to arrest, try and imprison Popcorn weighed against the 'taxable' money that the government claims it lost by his brewing?

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Bernard Madoff stole fifty billion dollars and is under house arrest in a posh New York City penthouse. He won't see a day in prison I'll bet you. But Popcorn Sutton for stealing from NO ONE gets hard time.

As the first guy said, f-ck this government.

FREE POPCORN!

Anonymous said...

Bush is a bastard for not pardoning him. Popcorn is a great man. I am happy to have met him. This is very sad.

All his friends and fans should step up to the plate and help his wife make ends meet while Popcorn is away.

Anonymous said...

The law is an ass...people have hung to cover that ass.

bourbonbob said...

How can they justify the use of video from 20 years ago, sounds to me like he was sentenced before it went to court.

Anonymous said...

How could Bush have pardoned him?
"Popcorn" was convicted after Bush was out of office.

Why not ask for a pardon from the great Barack Obama?

It would appear that this is something he would be get behind.

yes? no?

Anonymous said...

What a disgusting Nation USA is - "punishing" an old man on "prosecutor's" evidence.

Chris Knight said...

Sutton had no choice but to plead guilty, but that was all the way back last April. So he's had the conviction but the sentencing was delayed twice. That's why he's only now getting the prison term.

Anonymous said...

Too bad he had a public defender. If he could have afforded a high rolling attorney, this wouldn't have happened.

Land of the Free? MY ASS

Anonymous said...

Popcorn kept pushing the envelope and he lost. He caught himself. The law didn't target him. His arrogant mouth got him caught. So much for sympathy. If you don't like a law, change it; if you can't change it, abide by it; if you can't abide by it, suffer the consequences in silence and don't blame someone else for your stupidity

Anonymous said...

that film was not 20 years old, it was made less than a decade ago, he even mentions in it that he was busted either in 97 or 98? so someone needs to count correctly. and he also claimed in that film that he wasn't gonna be around the next 5 years...how much longer is the last leg plea gonna hold out?
do any of you remember the story of the Pied Piper?

Neal said...

My counting IS off - the film used in the courtroom to demonstrate that Popcorn was healthy enough to continue making moonshine was made in 1991. I should have said "nearly" 20 years ago. Popcorn did attract the interest of the ATF by reputation, according to the testimony presented at his trial on the 26th, but they did not catch him until his stillhouse burned and the fire dept was called to his residence, and in turn they were required to notify the ATF. The ATF watched him closely after that (again, by their admission in court testimony) and did, literally, target him with a sting operation involving an undercover buyer who systematically earned Sutton's trust. I understand that not everyone will sympathize with him or what he's done, but the comments above are mistaken on these points of fact.

Neal said...

Actually, the footage of Popcorn making moonshine in a 50 gallon still in the woods (from The Last Dam Run of Likker..., The Last One) is only seven years old, so that is probably what the comment above refers to. This was not brought in as evidence against him at his trial. I think there was a good reason for that, but its beside the point. The footage of a healthy and able Sutton climbing up to cap a still was home video material from 1991, and, as I mentioned, was used primarily to undermine Tim Moore's defense that Popcorn was in poor health and should be allowed to serve his time under house-arrest and not in prison.

steve said...

Thanx Popcorn for the info that you have givin all of us......

Anonymous said...

I have always liked Popcorn, known him most of my life, not to mention his parents, good people. I didn't want him to get any time either. I do want to say though that I thought Popcorn was given a pat on the back. I did nearly a ten year sentence for growing a few pot plants. Eighteen months is nothing given the fact that he was given credit for time served on house arrest and that continues to run until they tell him when and where to report. He won't be gone over 3 or 4 months, would be a good chance for him to quit smoking. What happened to the gun by a felon charge? That carries ten years in Federal court!! What about the three years suspended sentence he was under? He must have sung like a canary, I figure they had to put a muzzel on him to shut him up. The feds don't just give out those lenient sentences. Those sentencing guidelines are tough and strict. He almost got nothing.

Neal said...

The Federal sentencing guidelines for the charges against him, to all of which he had plead guilty, are 18 - 24 months.

Anonymous said...

as far as the credit for time served goes it wasnt granted only the ten days he spent in greene county jail i was in the court room was you if not GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT if you knowed popcorn as good as you say you would know the shape of his health again get your shit straight

Anonymous said...

You need to read up on the Federal Sentencing guidelines regarding a conviction of a felon in possession of a firearm, as well as other charges popcorn was facing. You are the one that needs to get his shit straight. I ain't got no sympothy for a man that goes around bragging and boasting and making his private business everybodys else's business. I know he is in bad health and like I said, I don't want to see anybody get any time in prison unless they really deserve it for shit like child molestation, Murder, rape, etc. Our local paper said he would be given credit for house arrest and that would be up until he reports to prison. You ever been to prison? I'd like to shove a quart lickker jar up your ass and get you ready for it you piece of shit. You bad mouth me for nothing.
I understand what Neil said, yes the Federal sentencing guidelines for the charges he plead to were probably 18-24 months ! The key word here is Plead. He was offered a plea which means they worked out a deal for him.
Here is what the offical charges carried in Federal court.
Legendary moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, 61, of Haywood County was arrested and charged with making moonshine in March 2008. He faces three charges related to the manufacture and possession of selling untaxed whiskey and one charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison on the firearms count and up to 5 years in prison for each of the moonshining counts. He faces up to a $250,000 fine on each count, according to the news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Anonymous said...

wake up and smell the coffee people, not the moonshine!
funny how only each time he was arrested, his health became an issue, he seemed not only to be healthy enough to run a still back in 1991, and before that, but also in 2008, and have running more than one still, and even bigger than before...
focus on the truth!
when one is put on for probation, it does not give one permission to yet go forward with such disregard for the law.
they made no example of him...he got by easier than you or I would of...stop this hero and legend crap! most of us know better!
it's a slap in the face to the real law abiding citizens.

Anonymous said...

to the first part keep your ass out of trouble you wont be in prison your drugs got you there get a job earn your livin and keep your family off welfare second of all nobodys making him a legendjust a man doin what he does to get by hell lets just legalize crystal meth thats what the countrys goin to drugs sold to kids on the street by people who live off the government he didnt that means alot to know he earned his keep wish more people would

Anonymous said...

watch Popcorn on Jackass clipping, that should show youall what kind of man he is.

Anonymous said...

to the comment above the last...
did he use any of that $$$$$$$ for support of his children? I think not! maybe they had to go on welfare? who do you think pays for that? a punch in job is hard work too, so what makes him above any other to have to pay taxes? get real...yeah, he earned his keep alright...

Anonymous said...

Neal, you obviously don't know a thing about how Popcorn caught himself. The ATF was contacted after the state agent made his contact with Popcorn and Popcorn bragged about his 'outfit and his product'. He was not 'targeted'- his loud and arrogant mouth got him. I know because I was with it from the initial contact in Middle Tennessee. ATF wasn't brought in until a week after the initial contact with Popcorn

Neal said...

I was going by what the witness for the prosecution said under oath at the sentencing. My mistake.

lla said...

china wholesale
cell phones
mobile phone
cheap cell phones wholesale
cosplay costumes
cheap cell phones
cheap cocktail dresses
Cheap Wedding Dresses