Police: Troopers set up York County sting to nab Craigslist booze seller

A bottle of 12-year-old William Larue Weller bourbon.

William Larue Weller whiskey is so rare bottles are selling online for anywhere from $500 to $2,000.

But at least in Pennsylvania, the sellers have to be licensed.

A Maryland man learned that the hard way when he allegedly met undercover state troopers July 31 at Freedom Armory in Springfield Township.

The officers had answered Paul William Thompson's Craigslist advertisement offering a 140.2-proof bottle of William Larue Weller aged whiskey — distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2014 — for $750, according to court records.

At 750 ml per bottle, Thompson allegedly was charging a dollar per milliliter.

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Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. James Lynam and Officer Richard Hackenberg met Thompson at the York County shooting range after Lynam had contacted him through a fictitious Gmail account, records state.

The bourbon was part of a limited-release antique collection from Buffalo Trace Distillery, with a suggested retail price of $80, according to Alcademics, a blog by San Francisco cocktails and spirits journalist Camper English. The distillery claims it was the strongest proof Weller had ever released at the time.

Police are seeing an increase in sales taking place on secondary markets, including various social media outlets — Craigslist being one of them, Lynam said.

The York Dispatch reported in January that a York County man, Wade Collingsworth, received a misdemeanor charge for selling a 20-year-old bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's bourbon whiskey — also produced by Buffalo Trace.

Though he doesn't know the reason for the uptick, Lynam hopes cases like Thompson's will create greater exposure for the problem.

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Pennsylvania law states that alcohol, brew and malt beverages cannot even be offered for sale without a license, Lynam said. 

Thompson was charged with two counts of violating Title 47 of the liquor code — illegal sales of liquor, a misdemeanor, and illegal possession or transportation of liquor or alcohol, a summary offense, he said.

The Westminster, Maryland, man requested the meeting place for the sale, according to charging documents, but it is unknown why he wanted to meet in Pennsylvania.

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Lynam said the case is still under investigation.

Thompson has a preliminary hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 28. Court records do not list an attorney for Thompson, who could not be reached for comment.