News and Press Releases


WEDNESDAY - August 5, 2009


WILMINGTON - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court on August 3, 2009, JOHN DAWSON PIERCE, 61, South Mills, North Carolina, pled guilty before Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox to operating a liquor still without a license, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 5601(a)(4) and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1).

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on March 27, 2009.

The investigation revealed that between June, 2005, and August, 2007, PIERCE purchased over 21,000 pounds of sugar, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of moonshine. In July, 2007, it was learned that PIERCE was manufacturing illegal moonshine on a small undeveloped island in the middle of the Pasquotank River in Camden County.

On August 21, 2008, agents conducted a traffic stop on a customer of PIERCE’s. A search of the vehicle revealed 30 gallons of moonshine in the trunk.

On November 17, 2008, a search warrant was executed where agents seized four firearms and 15 gallons of moonshine.

For the charge of operating a liquor still without a license, PIERCE faces up to five years imprisonment followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $10,000. For unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, PIERCE faces up to 10 years imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. If deemed an Armed Career Criminal, PIERCE faces up to life imprisonment.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) which encourages federal, state, and local agencies to cooperate in a unified “team effort” against gun crime, targeting repeat offenders who continually plague their communities.

Investigation of the case was conducted by the Raleigh and Norfolk, Virginia offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the United States Coast Guard; and the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes represented the government.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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