Deal on Horizon for Police-Run ‘Jack Daniel’s Fundraising Committee’ Alleged to have Illegally Sold More Than $500K in Whiskey
The Washington, D.C. Attorney General’s Office offered to settle out of court with the Jack Daniel’s Fundraising Committee, a fraternal police lodge, which allegedly conducted online whiskey sales without the proper permits, the Washington Post reported Sunday. This is the latest in a string of events involving claims that the Jack Daniel’s Fundraising Committee was responsible for illegally selling 3,000 bottles of Jack Daniel’s between 2017 and 2020.
The settlement was reached just two months after Officers Gerald Niell Jr. and Michael Murphy raised alarms about the Jack Daniel’s Committee and were both ousted by the National Fraternal Order of Police at an April meeting in Boston. Both men are in the process of appealing the decision and insist they were removed for raising alarms about the organization. Their claims were refuted by a lawyer for the national FOP board.
The Jack Daniel’s Fundraising Committee’s inception was in part due to Michael Kruggel, a lodge member of the financially struggling entity. In 2017, Kruggel planned to purchase a barrel of Jack Daniel’s and re-sell it in police-branded bottles at conventions and on the internet to generate revenue for the FOP lodge, according to the Washington Post. Kruggel was then appointed chair of the newly minted “Jack Daniel’s Fundraising Committee.”
The D.C. lodge did not operate in accordance with liquor laws and was purported to have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in liquor sales during the three-year period.
In December 2021, the city’s alcohol control board discovered the FOP lodge violated six provisions of D.C. laws involving importation, distribution and sales of liquor. The FOP lodge was subsequently fined $2,000 by the city in April 2022, according to Barred In DC.
An audit found that the sales tallied up to the rough equivalent of $516,000. The revenue was purportedly used to pay for the committee’s expenses and travel costs, leaving a net revenue of only $11,000.
“The lodge made a whole lot more money than they alleged,” Kruggel said, per the Washington Post.
In reference to the recent removal of Officers Niell and Murphy, Larry James, the general counsel of the national FOP, claimed the officers were ousted for failing to follow mandates from the national trustees.
“They had every opportunity to get their house in order,” James said in reference to Murphy and Niell. “They basically refused.”
The proposed settlement agreement from the Attorney General’s Antitrust and Nonprofit Enforcement Section requested “voluntary compliance,” in lieu of taking the case to court, though whether the office is pursuing a criminal or civil case remains to be seen.
The newly appointed president of the lodge, Ronald Burgeson, insists that brighter days are ahead for the institution.
“One hundred percent we want to move forward,” Burgeson concluded. “It’s about healing and starting to build the lodge back.”
Murphy does not hold the same confidence.
“There are a lot of questions where the money went. Nobody wants to hold those people accountable.” Murphy concluded.
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