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article imageMan who allegedly drank $102,000 of historic whiskey charged

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By Leigh Goessl     Jul 21, 2013 in Crime
Pittsburgh - A woman who owns a historic Bed and Breakfast in Pennsylvania has brought charges against the man who allegedly drank several cases of vintage whiskey. The man denied these allegations, but DNA tests show his DNA profile was present on the bottles.
A man has been charged with drinking over $100,000 worth of historic pre-Prohibition whiskey. This has been an ongoing investigation since last year. Digital Journal had reported in March 2013 about the man who allegedly drank up a case of historic whiskey.
The man denied he drank the vintage pure rye whiskey and claimed it had evaporated.
A woman named Patricia Hill had been restoring a historic building for her business, the South Broadway Manor Bed and Breakfast in Scottdale, Penn. She hired a man, described as a long-time family friend, named John Saunders to serve as caretaker of the 1904 house.
While doing renovations workers uncovered the 104 bottles of the vintage whiskey. The bottles had been made in 1912. According to a WHAS 11 News report, the whiskey, Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey, had been manufactured by an old distillery which was located in the Pittsburgh area.
Part of Saunders' duties was to watch over the historic liquor found in the house during the refurbishment of the home. During the time he was in charge of caring for the house, 52 of the 104 bottles had allegedly been emptied. It was suspected Saunders drank up a piece of history. And subsequent DNA tests showed his DNA profile was present on a few of the bottles.
The mansion had originally been built by a man named J.P. Brennan, a local business man in the early 20th Century. He was given the cases of alcohol in 1918, just prior to Prohibition which had been in effect from 1920 to 1933.
At some point someone stashed the booze under a flight of stairs and subsequently enclosed it, hiding the whiskey from sight.
Over the years several owners came and went, but it seems no one discovered the numerous bottles. Until Hill came along. And now roughly half of it is gone, estimated to be worth about $102,400.
Saunders has been charged with felony theft and receiving stolen property, reported WTAE News.
He continues to deny he drank the rye whiskey.
"Yuck! That stuff had floaters in it and all kind of stuff inside the bottles," John Saunders, 63, of Irwin, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review outside a district judge's courtroom earlier this week. "I don't think it would even be safe to drink."
His attorneys told the court this week he is currently waiting for a liver transplant.
"The DNA doesn't lie. I'm just disappointed a family friend of over 40 years has lied," Hill said, reported WTAE. "It's a shame it took historic whiskey to realize and come to this point, but if it saved his life, maybe that's the best of it all."
The court proceeding is currently underway.
According to Hill's website for the bed and breakfast, remaining bottles are on display at the Old Overholt museum, which reopened in fall 2012.
Related reading:
Missouri man finds pre-Prohibition whiskey hidden in his attic
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