Entries in Drinking (3)


Man Drank $102,000 Worth of Historic Whiskey 

WTAE(PITTSBURGH) -- The owner of an historic inn in Pittsburgh has brought charges against a former tenant she says was supposed safeguard 50 bottles of vintage whiskey valued at more than $100,000 but drank it all instead.

The owner of the South Broadway Manor Bed and Breakfast, Patricia Hill, found 104 bottles of Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey when she bought the historic mansion and converted it into a bed and breakfast. It had originally belonged to Pittsburgh businessman J.P. Brennan.

The whiskey had been distilled in 1912 and given to Brennan in 1918, she told ABC News affiliate WTAE.

"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 today.

He said the bottles had been made and sold before Prohibition and then passed down.

The Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey was part of a collection of historical whiskey believed to have been consumed by Henry Frick and Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900s in Pittsburgh, Rick Bruckner, the chef at the South Broadway Manor, told WTAE.

"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.

Hill did not immediately return calls for comment. Pritts said that Hill put the whiskey bottles in the basement while the main floors were being renovated. John Saunders, 62, was a caretaker who lived in the basement and was expected to safeguard the booze.

"You know, to watch over them and keep them secure. I guess that was a mistake," Pritts said.
Hill discovered that 52 of the bottles had been emptied in March 2012, and reported it to police. All four cases of whiskey had been emptied within about a year, Pitts said.

Saunders denied that he consumed the vintage alcohol, but police tested the empty bottles to see if they matched Saunders' DNA. After seven months of testing, police confirmed that Saunders' DNA was found on the bottles, and charged him with felony theft and receiving stolen property, Pritts said.
Saunders appeared for a preliminary hearing in court on Wednesday and will face trial.

His attorney, Patrice DiPietro, did not immediately return calls for comment from ABC News.

"The DNA doesn't lie. I'm just disappointed a family friend of over 40 years has lied," Hill said, according to 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."

A whiskey appraiser told WTAE the value of the missing whiskey is around $102,400. Pritts requested restitution in the amount of the full retail value.

Attorneys agreed Wednesday that further expert testimony and evidence will have to be heard to determine the exact retail value of the whiskey.

During the hearing Wednesday, Saunders' attorney noted to the court that Saunders is now awaiting a liver transplant, Pritts added.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Boston Tops List of 'Drunkest' Cities in US

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This weekend, people around the country will be partying in celebration of the New Year.  It's possible that two cities in Massachusetts will party the hardest.

The Daily Beast has released a list of the "drunkest" cities in the United States in 2011, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and a survey conducted by market-research firm Experian Simmons.  Topping the list is Boston, where 15.5 drinks are consumed per month, on average, per person.  Over 7 percent of Bostonians are heavy drinkers, and over 20 percent are binge drinkers.

Springfield, Mass., ranks second, followed by Milwaukee, Reno, Nev., and San Antonio.

Here are the top 10 cities on the list:

1. Boston
2. Springfield, Mass.
3. Milwaukee
4. Reno, Nev.
5. San Antonio
6. Chicago
7. Austin, Texas
8. St. Louis
9. San Diego
10. Tucson, Ariz.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Blagojevich Prison Strategy: Substance Abuse Problem?

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Soon after ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was handed a stiff prison sentence -- 14 years in a federal pen -- another Illinois political figure who had done time offered some sage advice: tell the feds you just can’t stop drinking.

Scott Fawell, a former top aide to a different convicted governor, George Ryan, shaved time off his six-and-a-half-year sentence by entering a drug and alcohol rehab program at the federal prison camp in Yankton, S.D. After completing the nine-month regimen, Fawell got nearly a year’s credit in addition to time off for good behavior, serving just four years.

“It’s the only game in town,” he told ABC News, because parole is no longer available in the federal prison system.

A few days ago, Fawell contacted the Blagojevich defense team to offer some guidance. Now, Blagojevich is asking for drug and alcohol counseling at the minimum security prison in Englewood, Colo. U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel has agreed to the request, though the final decision is up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

During his two trials on corruption charges, Blagojevich never mentioned a drug or alcohol problem. But Fawell says it doesn’t take much to qualify for prison rehab -- just an admission of regular drinking, such as knocking back five or more drinks a week.

“They set the bar pretty low, telling you five drinks a week makes you a problem drinker,” said Fawell.

Fawell said he, like many first-time convicts, did drink more heavily before reporting to prison: “You have more time on your hands and you’re nervous about what prison will be like.” He told ABC News, “any lawyer worth their salt” knows to ask for drug and alcohol treatment for clients headed to a federal prison.

But U.S. prison officials were quick to splash some cold water on that theory. “We’re on the lookout for people trying to game the system,” said Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons. “We only take those with demonstrated, documented substance abuse problems who can get real benefit from our programs.”

And with beds in rehab facilities at a premium, Burke told ABC News, applicants must have solid evidence to back up their claims. Blagojevich, who must report to prison March 15, could get as much as two years off his 14-year-sentence for good behavior.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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