Caretaker Charged with Drinking $100K of Whiskey

DNA used to prove worker drank whiskey

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013  |  Updated 4:18 PM EDT
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Caretaker Claims $100K of Whiskey "Evaporated"

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The former live-in caretaker of a Pennsylvania mansion denies that 52 bottles of well-aged whiskey disappeared between his lips.
 
He says it "evaporated."

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John Saunders, the former live-in caretaker of a Pittsburgh-area mansion, faces criminal charges for allegedly drinking more than $100,000 worth of the owner's whiskey.

 
Owner Patricia Hill found nine cases of whiskey hidden in the walls and stairwell of the century-old Georgian mansion built by coal and coke industrialist J.P. Brennan after she bought it in 2012. The Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey was produced in the early 1900s by the nearby West Overton Distilling Co.
 
"My guess is that Mr. Brennan ordered 10 cases, pre-Prohibition," said Hill, a New Yorker who bought the house to convert it into a bed-and-breakfast. "I was told by his family that family members used to greet him at the door each day with a shot of whiskey."
 
Scottdale police told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Saunders drank dozens of bottles whiskey valued at $102,400 by a New York auction house.
 
Saunders, 62, of Irwin, was charged with receiving stolen property and theft. He told a judge this week that it would have never been safe for him to drink that old alcohol and that it must have evaporated. His preliminary hearing was postponed until May so that Saunders can have the help of a public defender.
 
Hill told police Chief Barry Pritts she stored the whiskey in the original cases, which contained 12 bottles each. After Saunders moved out, Hill said she discovered last March that the bottles in four cases were empty.
 
Saunders initially denied drinking the whiskey when questioned by police, but Pritts said a DNA linked him to three of the empty bottles.
 
A phone listing for Saunders could not immediately be located Friday.

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