According to WTAE News in Pennsylvania, a man has swilled down 50 bottles of pre-Prohibition whiskey in one year – whiskey he was supposed to be guarding for safekeeping.
The man, John Saunders, 62, was a caretaker who lived in the basement of the South Broadway Manor Bed and Breakfast near Pittsburgh, was a friend of the inn owner's family for 40 years. The owner, Patricia Hill, had discovered several cases of historic whiskey hidden in an enclosed space under the stairs of the inn during renovations. She had the cases taken to the basement for safekeeping until renovations were complete. She charged Saunders with keeping an eye on the cases.
It was a classic case of the fox being left to watch the henhouse.
"There were four cases, 52 bottles, manufactured by an old distillery here in the Township that went out of business many years ago," Barry Pritts, chief of police in Scottdale, Pa., said.
"The family that owned the estate, somebody hid it under a flight of stairs and enclosed the staircase, and the estate went through several families. The lady that owns it now was doing a remodeling project and the people who were doing the work found them," Pritts said.
About a year later, when Hill discovered that the whiskey bottles were now empty, she called police. Saunders denied drinking the whiskey. Seven months of DNA testing ensued. Finally police confirmed that DNA found on the bottles was a match to Saunders. They charged him with felony theft and receiving stolen property.
The man had drunk a bottle every week for a year. Apparently no one knew Saunders had a drinking problem. But now his attorney tells the court that Saunders is awaiting a liver transplant.
"It's a shame it took historic whiskey to realize and come to this point," said Hill. "But if it saved his life, maybe that's the best of it all."