Chattanooga Whiskey co-founder arrested for public intoxication

photo Joe Ledbetter, co-founder of Chattanooga Whiskey, was arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and retaliation against a judge, juror or officer.

The co-founder of local startup Chattanooga Whiskey was arrested on Sunday for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and retaliation against a judge, juror or officer, according to police.

Joe Ledbetter, also part-owner of the whiskey company, was arrested at 3:12 a.m. Sunday morning after confronting police officers on Frazier Avenue.

The police report states that Ledbetter smelled strongly of alcohol and was slurring words. He asked the officers to help him get a taxi so he could get home, but when officers directed him to several taxis parked on the street corner, he became irritated and started to speak loudly, causing several people to stop and watch, according to the report.

He caused enough of a scene that he was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. Then, as he was being transported to the Hamilton County Jail for booking, Ledbetter allegedly told the officer that he wouldn't forget the officer and made a profanity-laced threat.

That's what led to the retaliation against a judge, juror or officer charge, according to the report.

Ledbetter apologized for his actions Monday.

"Frankly, believe it or not, I make mistakes just like regular human beings, and Saturday night was no different," he said. "At the end of the day I'm not an advocate for being irresponsible, and I think whiskey should be consumed and enjoyed slowly. In my opinion, I have a responsibility more than others because of what I do for a living. It's unacceptable."

Ledbetter is part-owner and a member of Chattanooga Whiskey's board but has not been involved in the day-to-day work at the company since late 2013, he added.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or