HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The supervisor of the Rainsville Wastewater Treatment Plant, 62-year-old Allen Stiefel, is off the job and without pay following an illegal wine making operation inside the facility.
Hours later, he was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of an illegally manufactured alcoholic beverage, a misdemeanor and use of official position for personnel gain.
The mayor suspended the supervisor without pay effective immediately.
The mayor said Stiefel worked for the city for the last 15 years. He said the supervisor had a key to the facility, so it is unclear if this happened on or off the clock.
The investigation began Thursday afternoon when someone tipped off the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office about an illegal operation happening inside a city building.
It is still unclear who tipped off the department.
But when they arrived, officers found a large amount of alcohol on the premises.
The sheriff’s office believes the illegal wine making was in operation for a long period of time due to the amount of evidence collected.
The supervisor of the wastewater plant reports to the mayor directly.
“The wastewater treatment plant is one of those things where you go down there and you see most of it but you don’t see every little corner,” said Rainsville Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt. “Things happen like that; you can’t protect every little thing. We tried, but you can’t stop every little thing that goes on.”
Mayor Lingerfelt said he has never had an issue with this employee in the past.
“Devastated, you got a problem going on like that and you don’t know about it, its hard to take in. I was in shock.”
There are three other employees at the plant and the mayor said he doesn’t believe the others will be suspended.
The mayor said customer’s water was not affected by the illegal activity.
In August the City of Rainsville approved alcohol sales. It went into effect on November 1st.
City officials said the man accused of making the wine did not have a license.
This is an ongoing investigation and we will keep you updated as we learn more.