Bottles of Old Farm whiskey at South Broadway Manor Bed and Breakfast. (Sean Stipp/Tribune-Review)
A man accused of drinking $102,000 worth of vintage whiskey says he's innocent.
TribLIVE.com reports that nine cases of the rare booze were discovered when the historic J.P. Brennan mansion in Scottdale, Pa., was renovated and turned into South Broadway Manor Bed and Breakfast. The owner of the B&B, Patricia Hill, hired John W. Saunders as caretaker. She later discovered that bottles in four of the nine cases had been emptied and is accusing Saunders of drinking them and putting the bottles back.
Saunders called the charges "totally false" outside the courtroom where he was set to face a preliminary hearing. "Yuck! That stuff had floaters in it and all kind of stuff inside the bottles. ... I don't think it would even be safe to drink."
John W. Saunders (Sean Stipp/Tribune-Review)
Saunders sought, and was granted by Judge Chuck Moore, a delay of the preliminary hearing so that he might apply to work with a public defender. The next hearing will take place May 15.
TribLIVE.com explains that the Old Farm whiskey was distilled in 1912, bottled five years later and then forgotten. And it reports that "based on an appraisal of four full bottles by Bonhams, a renowned auction house in New York City, police estimated the value of the 52 bottles at $102,400."
While Saunders is adamant about his innocence, Scottdale police Chief Barry Pritts said the thief left a DNA sample on the lips of the empty bottles that matched a previous sample taken from Saunders, according to TribLIVE.com.
Saunders told police the whiskey evaporated. He believes the mansion owners are "looking for money." He estimated the whiskey's actual value is "about $10 a bottle" rather than more than $1,900 each.
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