By: Lizzy Bibbs
New Amestent Gazette Staff Reporter
Twenty-nine-year old carpenter, Jesus Christoff was taken into custody by New Amestent Police yesterday evening for failure to obtain a license while operating a small winery in his basement Chief of Police, Deputy Sam Lot said.
“I wasn’t selling any of it,” Christoff said after being handcuffed. “I was saving it for a friend’s wedding.”
Lot says he is shocked by the discovery.
“He keeps saying it’s for a wedding,” Lot said. “Wedding or not, it is still illegal in the State of Maryland to operate an alcohol distillation facility without proper licensing.”
After a two month investigation Lot had no choice but to arrest Christoff.
“We found 500 barrels of homemade wine in Christoff’s basement,” Lot said.
Many are outraged by the amount of alcohol found on the premises.
“What was this guy doing? Turning water to wine?” Christoff’s neighbor, Gene Foster asked. “He’s only lived here for five months.”
Lot said police have been watching Christoff after receiving several noise complaints for rallies held on his property.
“We had many complaints of the noise coming from Mr. Christoff’s yard,” Lot said. “Some had suggested possible cult activity but we had no idea we’d find this.”
Next door neighbor Laura Crawford has personally called the police when the noise got too loud.
However Crawford’s suspicion started even before the noise began.
“The man says he’s a carpenter,” Crawford said. “But I’ve never seen him pick up a hammer. I just don’t trust him.”
Crawford cannot seem to fathom how her neighbor could possibly be a carpenter. According to Crawford, Christoff has never been seen with any sort of woodworking equipment and his small yellow 1968 Volks Wagon bug is hardly the vehicle for carrying around materials.
“I just don’t see it,” Crawford said. “Carpenters have to spend a lot of time with their work.”
Crawford spoke of her father’s career as a carpenter and how much of his life was spent working. Crawford does not see the same work ethic in Christoff.
“From what I see, Mr. Christoff just doesn’t spend his time doing anything real productive,” Crawford said. “He does do a lot of fishing when he’s not making all that ruckus.”
Crawford has watched Christoff pulling nets full of fish along with multiple loaves of bread out of his car’s trunk about three to four times a week.
“It would seem to me the man is more of a baker or cook of sorts with all that food he keeps bringing home,” Crawford said.
As for “all that ruckus”, the music is not the cause.
According to Crawford it was his shouting, waking up her children and leaving her no choice but to call authorities.
“If it was just the chanting, I could bear it,” Crawford said. “But it was so much more. He’d stand on that mound in his front yard and just start ranting to whoever happened to walk by.”
The grassy two foot mound in Christoff’s front yard decorated with plastic olive branches is the apparent meeting place for his rallies.
Crawford recalls not only “whole crowds” forming in Christoff’s front yard but 12 unidentified men consistently appearing at his house.
“I’ve been worried for my children’s safety ever since I saw [Christoff’s] moving van pull up,” Crawford said. “I mean what kind of single man has 12 men constantly going in and out of his home? I’ve been in his house when the Johnsons owned it. Believe me it’s not that big.”
Denny Gregory, another neighbor, experienced Christoff’s antics first hand after accepting a dinner invitation last Friday night.
“I knew some of my neighbors had problems with him,” Gregory said, “but I thought why not stop on by. You know give the guy a break.”
Gregory did not see Christoff’s basement brewery on Friday. Instead Gregory said they spent most of their time in his dining room.
“I can’t say [Christoff] isn’t a nice guy,” Gregory said. “He was very welcoming. It’s his feet infatuation that left me feeling, well uncomfortable.”
Gregory says Christoff insisted on cleaning his feet.
“I showered before I went over but he brought out towels and a wash bin filled with water,” Gregory said. “Jesus couldn’t get his mind off my feet. He was obsessed.”
After several minutes of insisting his feet were clean, Gregory finally gave into Christoff's persistance and put his feet into the water.
“I figured what’s the harm in one guy rubbing another guy’s feet,” Gregory said. “I must admit for a carpenter, he was rather good. My feet still feel clean and his hands were surprisingly soft.”
Gregory does not see Christoff as a danger to the neighborhood.
“I’ve seen these guys before,” Gregory said. “He has a real bad father complex. I mean that’s all we talked about, how great his father is.”
At one point Gregory said Christoff mentioned how much his father loves him.
“I’m pretty sure Jesus is just recanting stories his mother told him,” Gregory said. “I mean his father left him before he was born. You know the typical deadbeat dad story.”
As far as Christoff’s weekly rallies, Gregory has mixed feelings.
“I don’t particularly care for propaganda,” Gregory said. “On the other hand, it’s not like he’s hurting anyone.”
Whether Christoff is a real threat has yet to be seen.
As of now bond has been set for Chirstoff at $2,000 and authorities say the list of charges will be made public later this afternoon.