Guy Buffington and Joe Sellers

Article from newspaper with headline, "Liquor Violation Charge, Four La Grande Residents on Trial in Federal Court Here."
This article in The Oregonian newspaper describes Guy Buffington as the "intellectual force" behind a liquor conspiracy. Enlarge image | Transcript of article
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On December 9, 1920, The Oregonian newspaper printed a brief news item about the federal trial of a group of defendants accused of manufacturing whiskey in the Blue Mountains of Union County. One of the men on trial, Guy Buffington, was characterized by federal prosecutors as “the intellectual force behind the alleged conspiracy” even though he did not personally handle any of the liquor. The judge directed the jury to find Buffington not guilty, as the prosecution did not produce enough evidence to convict him.     

Buffington’s luck ran out in 1927, when he was sentenced to two years in the Penitentiary for operating a still. In a statement to the Governor seeking parole, he sought to pin the blame on Joe Sellers, his partner in the operation. Contending that “part of evidence was false and misconstrued,” he alleged that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. “I was asked by Joe Sellers … to take him out in the country in my car, which I did. And the Sheriff was laying in wait and arrested me in my car.”

He claimed that Sellers tried to tell the Sheriff that Buffington “had no interest in the still whatever.” When asked if he was guilty of the crime, Buffington flatly stated “No of course not.”

Sheriff Breshears, in his statement to the Parole Board, viewed things much differently. Buffington “was caught with possession of still, and laid it on Joe Sellers and gave him a trip for one year.” “I had a hard time to catch him as he was a sly bird.” The Sheriff concluded by stating “In my judgment he should serve his full time as we have plenty of violators left here.”

Buffington was discharged in late 1928 after serving approximately one and a half years in the Penitentiary.  

About the Inmates

Mug shot of Guy Buffington with prisoner number 9929.
Guy Buffington's Oregon State Penitentiary mug shot.
View Buffington's fingerprint card
Name: Guy Buffington
Received: July 21, 1927
Discharged: July 15, 1929
Crime: Possession of a still
County: Union
Age: 49
Height: 5’6 1/2”
Weight: 139lbs
Build: Chunky
Hair: Light Brown
Eyes: Blue
Complexion: Light
Born: Oregon
Occupation: Locomotive Engineer 
Mug shot of Joe Sellers with prisoner number 9919
Joe Sellers' Oregon State Penitentiary mug shot.
View Seller's fingerprint card
Name: Joseph Sellers
Received: July 8, 1927
Paroled: February 23, 1928
Crime: Possession of a still
County: Union
Age: 44
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 140lbs
Build: Muscular
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Light Gray
Complexion: Light
Born: North Carolina
Occupation: Locomotive Fireman