A DC Police Union May Have Sold Whiskey Illegally

When fundraising goes very wrong

One would think that police fundraisers would be soundly legal, and yet.
phil cruz/Unsplash

Selling liquor across state lines is a tricky business. Depending on where you live, it might be completely easy — or it might be absolutely prohibited by law. Whether you’re a distillery or a distributor, these are things you should be aware of before you get into the business of selling spirits across state lines. And they’re definitely things you should be aware of if you’re selling spirits across state lines and you have connections to law enforcement. You’d think so, anyway.

But for one prominent police union organization, this turned out to be the exact opposite of what took place. A new report by Peter Hermann, David A. Fahrenthold and Dana Hedgpeth at The Washington Post offers a detailed look into the actions of Washington, D.C.’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge — an organization that, in 2017, launched something called the Jack Daniel’s Fundraising Committee.

The article notes that, between 2017 and 2020, the lodge sold 3,000 bottles of Jack Daniel’s. The process was the brainchild of Tennessee resident and lodge officer Michael Kruggel, and led to the lodge purchasing a barrel from Jack Daniel’s, then selling them in bottles that had the lodge’s logo etched into them. It proved to be a runaway success, with 138 bottles selling in the first two days.

Sound too good to be true? Well, the sales continued — but, as the article’s authors write, “The Post could find no evidence that the lodge ever obtained the permits required to do what it did: sell liquor by the bottle, and ship it across state lines.” And under the lodge’s bylaws, Kruggel should have been ineligible to join. The lodge’s president, Gerald Neill Jr., told the Post, “We don’t know how he got to be a member.”

Neill ended up putting an end to the Jack Daniel’s Fundraising Committee, as well as starting an investigation into the committee’s actions. For all of the money it brought in, it only ended up raising $11,000 — and there’s still a lot of whiskey left that the lodge might find far more challenging to sell.


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