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He went from beloved smalltown softball player to infamous bourbon heister and eventually to inmate. But where is Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger now?
Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger once loved his life in Franklin County, Kentucky. And why wouldn't he? As he explains in Netflix’s new docuseries“Heist,” a six-part series that focuses on some of America’s biggest heists, he was very popular.
He was a star on the local softball team and he ran with a pack of buff “meatheads,” as his wife Julie calls them in the series. And he loved his job at the bourbon distillery Buffalo Trace, where he worked for 26 years. He noted that it was customary for workers to take home free bottles and even cases of booze here and there. It never hurt his popularity when he showed up at the softball field with bottles of bourbon.
Not only was he a beloved guy about town, but he was a facilitator.
“I was the kind of guy who you knew who could get stuff,” he admits in “Heist.”
He’d connect people with steroids and he’d connect them with rare booze.
The bourbon Pappy Van Winkle skyrocketed into popularity thanks to celebrities and food connoisseurs like Anthony Bourdain and David Chang. And it just so happened to be distilled at Buffalo Trace. People were going nuts for the brand in the late aughts, paying upwards of thousands for just one bottle.
Due to his job, Curtsinger was always close to the coveted booze that people were just dying to be connected with. Curtsinger explained in the series that hooking people up with what they wanted brought him a sincere level of happiness. However, his love for doing so ultimately led to his downfall. And the catalyst for that downfall was this pricey bourbon.
Curtsinger orchestrated a scheme that raked in thousands for him and nine co-conspirators. He’d steal bottles of bourbon for profit, often with members of his recreational softball team. He did so successfully from 2008 until he was caught with barrels of stolen bourbon on his property in 2015.
During that time though, “Pappygate” occurred. In 2013, 195 bottles of the coveted liquor and 27 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle Rye were reported stolen from Buffalo Trace Distillery, WKYT reports. The stolen bottles were valued at more than $26,000 and the liquor heist made international headlines.
When Curtsinger was caught in 2015, he was fingered for the 2013 heist but he denied that particular crime.
He and nine others — including his own wife — were indicted on multiple charges, including in engaging in organized crime. However, only Curtsinger served prison time.
“They turned all those guys against me,” he said with tears in his eyes in “Heist.” He went on to say he misses and loves his former teammates and friends.
He pleaded guilty in 2017 to theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but only served 30 days.
Meanwhile, a man named Greg Anglin allegedly admitted to being behind the infamous 2013 Pappygate. Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Farmer admits in “Heist” that Curtsinger's crimes were unfairly lumped into what Anglin did. Anglin was never charged with anything because he was granted immunity before his confession, Farmer stated.
But for Curtsinger, his reputation for being the "Pappygate" ringleader persists and while he is out of prison he is still dealing with the repercussions of his actions. He said his long-term plans have been crushed.
“Work, build up a 401K, retirement, I had everything set, that just got smashed,” he said in “Heist.” “I got to live with what I put my kids through, what I put my mom and dad through, everyone I know.”
Derek Doneen, director of the series, told Oxygen.com that Curtsinger particularly feels shame for what he put his two kids, who make appearances in the series, through.
“It’s really affected his life and the life of his kids,” he said. “I think that’s what really gets to him.”
His wife Julie notes in the show she took her wedding rings off five years ago. She said there may be a time she puts them back on but not now.
Now, Curtsinger paints houses for work and in his spare time loves to cook. He still lives in Kentucky and is working hard to repair his relationship with his family.
“He’s very active in his kids’ lives,” Doneen told Oxygen.com, adding that Curtsinger made him fried snapping turtle. “It’s sort of wonderful to eat with them and see how he does live day to day. Part of the guiding principle we are trying to do with this show is to find characters that are relatable, that sort of feel like your average person, like you and me. Someone who was presented with an opportunity and found themselves on the edge of something that would change their life forever.”
"Heist" is available now on Netflix.
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