Heist (2021) s01e05 Episode Script

The Bourbon King: Part 1

I was the kind of guy
that you knew that could get stuff.
I was kind of like a mini-Amazon.
If you got to talking to me,
we became friends,
and you said, "Hey, man,
can you help me get this?"
I'd help you get it. Boom.
Helping you get something
released a small endorphin
that made me feel good.
There's an old saying,
"The devil deceived me,"
showed me something I wanted,
it felt good, looked good
but guess what?
Sooner or later, that bill comes due.
They're calling it
the bourbon theft of the decade.
The Franklin County Sheriff says
it's the biggest case
they've ever worked involving bourbon.
Guns of every kind available,
and illegal steroids.
A local sheriff says
he will leave no stone unturned
in finding the culprit for the heist,
bourbon heist.
If you want trouble ♪
You got it ♪
Investigators point
to Gilbert "Toby" Curtsinger
as the leader of the organized crime ring.
Many of these criminals
shared the same passion softball.
- Well, if you want trouble ♪
- Toby and his gang
stole enough liquor
to get half the state blind drunk.
Police say
Curtsinger and his crew
were behind the notorious
2013 liquor heist,
known around the world as "Pappygate."
500-pound barrels, 300 bottles,
some of those bottles contained
Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.
A barrel
of rare Pappy bourbon
is worth an incredible $100,000.
It's like stealing liquid gold.
If you want trouble ♪
I love Kentucky. I love Frankfort.
I love everything about it,
I love the people.
I've had several people say,
"I heard Kentucky's such-and-such
with an amount of teeth missing."
I've got I's all mine.
And, you know, the best whiskey
is straight Kentucky whiskey.
The devil's in the whiskey ♪
An angel told me so ♪
She said, the devil's in the whiskey
For sure ♪
Ah, bourbon!
Kentucky's got the water.
You need good water to make good liquor,
and this state seems to be the state
that is a-okay for it.
There's a high concentration
of bourbon distilleries here in Frankfort.
Distilleries like Buffalo Trace,
Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve,
they're all right here
in this little bitty town.
It's something that has been around
for hundreds of years in Kentucky.
It's just a part
of the culture here
that goes back hundreds of years,
you know, to the moonshiners.
These are people
that were very salt of the earth.
You have this
I wouldn't call it outlaw culture,
I'd call it an independence culture.
The devil's in the whiskey ♪
Here in Kentucky,
there's there's a law.
The government says
what you can and can't do.
Then there's an unwritten law,
that says that, "Just because
the government says that it's illegal
doesn't mean that I'm not gonna do it."
It's the Duke boys,
they're doing the best they could,
and maybe a little more
than the law will allow.
What if somebody has a Pappy bottle?
I'm not gonna ask 'em where they got it.
It's none of my business
where it came from.
Everybody watches out for each other.
Like a good ol' boy tradition.
In Kentucky,
you have the legal rule of law,
but then there's also
the good ol' boy code.
There's a thin line between the two.
Toby Curtsinger crossed that line.
Buffalo Trace is a great place to work.
I started in the warehouse,
$7.51 an hour in 1988.
Then I went to shipping
and worked in shipping for ten years,
and then I was a processor.
I worked there for 26 years,
it helped put a roof over my kids' head,
I liked the guys that I worked with.
I mean, it was fun.
My mother used to work at a distillery,
my daddy worked at one.
I have a lot of friends.
I've been in their houses.
If you work at a distillery,
you automatically get alcohol.
It's the culture.
First day, one of the guys
was like, "Here's yours."
I was like, "I don't want that,
I don't like whiskey."
He just kind of looked.
I was like, "They're kind of testing me."
They just wanted to make sure
I didn't tell on them. I wasn't a rat!
So, I took it and I
And it burnt my throat.
They all laughed, like,
"That's good stuff, isn't it?"
It was, like, the dirty little thing
that everybody did
but nobody talked about.
I've seen supervisors,
I've seen guards put cases in the trunks
of their vehicles and drive out.
I mean, that's just the way it is.
There was times I took bottles
out of there just like everybody else.
And take it over to the ballpark.
"Here, I brought you guys something."
All right, folks.
Let's get ready to play ball.
Hell, they loved that.
We live in the country,
not a lot goes on, but softball was big.
Toby made a lot of friends
playing softball. Good friends.
And they always looked up to Toby.
I knew Toby
from the softball fields.
If you're at the park and Toby's there,
you're gonna know it.
Well ♪
Now, here's a little story
For you, one and all ♪
Together we stand, divided we fall ♪
Together we stand ♪
A-divided we must fall ♪
Toby was a great player.
It's just like any sport you do,
you look up to the guys
that are better than you.
Me and Dusty, when we played,
our thing was we'd always try
to light the pitcher up.
Toby and I would compete,
saying, "How many pitchers you take out
this weekend? I took out two."
Watch your Chiclets.
I made my best friends playing softball.
Even though we didn't play
on the same team, we had a different bond.
We were the best of the best.
Mike was on the police department.
He was a big ol' boy.
I'm not a gay man,
but he's a good-looking guy.
Sean Searcy, he drove trucks
over at Wild Turkey.
He was a ladies man. He'd bat his eyes,
girls would flock to him.
Ronnie Lee,
he's quiet until he gets drinking,
then he gets a little redneck.
He just gets drunk
and gets mouthy.
Playing softball with my best friends,
it made you feel real good.
Now, here's a little story
For you, one and all ♪
Together we stand, divided we fall ♪
Together we stand ♪
I loved those guys,
I'll always love 'em.
Together we stand ♪
A-divided we must fall ♪
I used to bench over 455 pounds.
Squatted over 750 pounds.
Used to skull crush 225.
He was big, man.
As an athlete, you think,
"Okay, what can I do to be my best?"
Whatever it takes.
I didn't want to hit it 500 feet,
I wanted 550 feet.
I wanted people in the crowd
to say, "Ooh!"
Mike, Toby, and I, we were like that.
Whatever edge we could get, we'd do it.
Now, to us, when we would lift
and we would take stuff,
you done that to impress other dudes.
I'm a bad man
I'm a, I'm a bad man ♪
I'm a bad man
I'm a, I'm a bad man ♪
We'd all be in there
with shaved arms and spandex shirts,
and our tans and all that.
First thing, you'd look around,
"Look at the arms on that dude."
It's a vanity drug, man.
It gives you
that utopia feeling or whatever.
It gives you the most self-confidence
you've ever seen in your life.
He's a meathead.
He hung out with all the meatheads,
the big guys.
They were the loud ones in the gym,
they were obnoxious,
so it was kind of,
"Stay away from those bad guys."
I met Julie down at Ford's Fitness.
She had these spandex shorts on,
she was bending over,
getting something out of the cabinet.
And it's like, "Who's that?"
I didn't have any attraction
off the get-go.
She was shy,
and then I just got talking to her.
He said we could just go to dinner
and talk as friends.
I thought,
"What'll it hurt to go to dinner?"
How did he propose to you?
I was taking a bath.
He proposed to me in the bathtub.
Hugged me and said yes,
and said she loved me too.
Got me all wet and soapy.
I'm happy to pronounce to you
Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Thomas Curtsinger.
I knew he was in this macho group,
but I felt like he had
this sensitive side.
That's what attracted me to him,
was the other side.
My mentality is
completely different than his.
His loyalty is to his buddies.
I told Toby, we need
to be in this as a team,
and as a marriage,
and as a relationship together.
"Well, I mean, I feel right.
Is it right? Is it time?"
It's a lot to think about.
But I was like,
"Everything's going good, now's the time."
He's really good with the kids,
he's a great father.
You hold him for the first time
and you look at him, and it's just
Those two occasions
are probably the best days of my life.
Isabella, is that waters?
All I see is that girl's head.
We thought the next step would be
to get the bigger home, the two-bath.
She seen how much money
she could do at real estate,
and jumped in full force on that.
My schedule was so crazy.
Picking up kids from school,
taking 'em to gymnastics,
working the gym, real estate.
Her thing was always,
her life changed but mine didn't.
"My life changed but you stayed the same,"
she'd always say that.
He wants to be the man,
he wants to be that top dog,
but it just got really stressful for me
to try to be a successful realtor
while he was playing softball.
I just said, "You pick softball
or you pick me."
I told my buddies
I had to quit playing ball.
They was like, "What?" I was like,
"It's either this or my wife and kids."
I said, "You guys,
I love you, but I need to do this."
And that was it.
When I quit playing ball,
it was weird
how everything just disappeared.
Now, I go to work
coming home, cook,
eat, take care of the kids.
Get up, go to work
coming home
going to work.
You get stuck in that rut, man.
What a play!
Unbelievable! Vince Stanley from
I got thinking about that.
"It used to be so fun
to get out and see everybody."
I guess you change as you get older.
But it was something that I could do,
it still helped me feel
alive a little bit.
At the time that was going on,
one friend of mine,
he came over and ate
and we had some Van Winkle.
Well, the next thing I know,
he really liked it. And he's like,
"How much of that you got?"
I said, "Why?"
He said, "Well, I know
somebody that wants some."
I said, "But it's for myself,
'cause I like it."
He said, "They want to buy it."
I said, "I ain't getting into that there."
I said, "Here's two bottles,
take it and get out of here."
So then the next day, he come back
and he dropped a wad of cash down.
Just hundred dollar bills,
bam, in the bank notes.
I was like, "Golly!"
It was more than I'd have made in a month.
He's like, "Man, anything else,
they'll take everything you got."
I called my buddy, he said,
"Look what this is going for online."
I was looking and I was like, "Good Lord!"
"That's selling for $1,000 a bottle
for 20-year-old. That is ridiculous."
Like, back in the day, 50 bucks a bottle.
What happened here?
In the 1990s,
Pappy Van Winkle was just sitting around.
Nobody was selling
15-year bourbon at the time.
Bourbon used to be marketed
as a country drink.
When it came down to it,
James Bond drank martinis.
Fast forward 20 years later
and you have a show like Mad Men on.
Can I get an old fashioned?
If I can jump behind a bar
and mix together
an old fashioned cocktail,
all of a sudden I'm sophisticated.
Rye okay with you?
Now people start to go, "Huh,
bourbon? What's up with bourbon?"
Then you add in
people like Anthony Bourdain
talking about Pappy Van Winkle.
If God made bourbon,
this is what he'd make.
Next thing you know, the rest
of the world wants Pappy Van Winkle.
But it's hard to get.
Buffalo Trace Distillery
sells just 7,000 cases
of its secret corn, wheat,
and barley recipe each year.
All of a sudden, Hollywood
and the rest of the world
is searching after Pappy Van Winkle,
and us who live here,
less than five minutes
from where it's made,
can't find it anywhere.
This line wraps all the way
around Party Source in Newport.
All the way around the building.
Before, the price of that Pappy
was $100 a bottle.
It jumped up so quickly. $150, $400
$1,000, $1,500, $4,000.
That's crazy. For one bottle.
For one bottle.
At that time in my career
at Buffalo Trace,
I was making around $15 to $16 an hour.
It'd be like working
in a bank or Fort Knox
with a vault wide open with no guards.
You got people going,
"I'll give you this for this."
What they give you is two times more
than what you made in two weeks,
and it's tax free.
It comes down to
is your conscience gonna say, "Hey, man."
"It's your choice. If you take it,
you're the one's gonna feel bad."
A lot of people look at it,
"I wouldn't do that."
I called, I said, "I'll help you out."
We go into the lab a lot.
If you look at a taste test,
they had bottles behind bottles,
they had four bottles of 20-year-old.
I said, "Any way I can get one?"
He's like, "I don't know."
I's like, "I know you strapped for cash.
I got a guy that'll give $1,000 a piece."
He said, "You're kidding."
There's poker games in Frankfort
a lot of people don't know about.
You got doctors,
you got lawyers, you got judges,
you got state politicians,
you got US politicians,
that all play in these big poker games.
So, they like whiskey. I'd say,
"Here, I brought you guys something."
Well, hell, they loved that.
One of the doctors, he was like,
"Man, anything else, I'm game for it."
Playing softball with everyone
knowing your name,
it just felt really good.
When I quit playing ball,
it's like a part of me is missing.
And different people
handle things different.
It may sound corny, but to me,
it's like, "I know this guy
will like this. If I can help him get it"
It's kind of dumb.
It made me feel good that I could help.
I was talking to my buddy Austin.
Austin was employed at Buffalo Trace.
He was like a younger brother to me.
So, Austin gets this girl
he's been dating She gets pregnant.
He's starting to crunch,
she moves in, he's needing money.
So, I told him about the Van Winkle.
He says, "What about the display bottles?"
I got to looking at them,
"I never thought about that."
They were where
you could just pick 'em up.
So I took a picture for the doctor.
Teased him, I said,
"Look what I found in my shed."
I said, "What'll you give me for 'em?"
He gave me a price.
I said, "All right."
Next thing I knew, I'm sitting here
and you know all these rich people
that they've done passed your
Not your name, but,
"Hey, man, I know a guy."
He kept hitting me up
for more stuff. Different stuff.
I mean, you had just people
going crazy over everything.
It started with the Van Winkle
going through the roof,
then they started going
for the Eagle Rare ten-year,
they started going for the Blanton's.
So I said, "Give me a couple days."
I was at home one night,
and all of a sudden I heard
something pull up the driveway.
It was Ray Osborne.
Ray works with me at Buffalo Trace.
Ray, he would get behind in money,
so I said, "There's people
that will pay you money for stuff."
And he was like, "Really?"
Then, when I would meet him after work,
he'd have a couple cases of alcohol.
He said, "Will this work?"
After that, man,
he started doing crazy stuff.
Ray might remember it differently,
but the way I remember it,
he was in one of the maintenance trucks
and he had it loaded
with 80-something cases of alcohol.
I said, "Pull it around back."
He was like, "I figured
you could help get rid of this."
I said, "Ray, you are crazy."
So, we loaded it out back
and I ask him, "How did you do this?"
He was so drugged out,
he didn't even know.
He looked at me,
and his eyes was like two glasses.
I said, "That's it.
Don't ever do this again."
I was just, like, stunned.
You know, it was overwhelming.
So, I made two phone calls.
One said, "I'll take this."
One said, "I'll take this," and, boom.
I got rid of it.
I couldn't believe it.
It was like this stuff
it was this sacred nectar
from Mount Olympus
that they had at Buffalo Trace,
and everybody wanted it,
and then what happened?
I got dropped
right into it and there it went. Boom.
Hey there, everybody ♪
Can't you take a hint? ♪
Forget about all of your troubles ♪
And how you're gonna pay your rent ♪
Then there was Austin,
he would take stuff.
He'd call me and say,
"Can you get rid of it?"
I said, "Sure, I've got
all kinds of people wanting stuff."
It got to the point,
it was getting crazy, man.
Everybody's like, "I need this."
The problem I had was I didn't
have stockpiles of stuff sitting around.
That's when I thought about Sean Searcy.
He worked at Wild Turkey.
He always told me
that he had access to the barrels.
I said, "If you ever get a chance,
there's always somebody wants some."
He said, "By the end of the day,
I could have a barrel here."
You're looking at $1,200 to $1,500
for something like that.
He said, "If you need,
I can get another one,"
and that got the ball rolling.
Yeah ♪
Enjoy yourself ♪
I want everybody
To have themselves some fun ♪
As far as the barrels,
I don't know what it was.
It had Wild Turkey on it
but everything else was blackened out,
so you could tell 'em anything
and they'd believe it.
When did I buy my first barrel?
It was like, "Okay, I got extra money,
I'll buy a barrel."
When I bought that barrel,
it wasn't just for me.
It was for everybody that surrounded me.
They would taste my barrel
and then, "I want a barrel."
Ronnie Lee knew a lot of people,
and when he'd pop his bottle out,
"Where'd you get that at?"
"I got a friend of mine."
You drink around your friends, impressing
"Where'd you get that? I can't get that."
"I can get that for you."
Then you get the phone call.
Enjoy yourself ♪
Come ♪
Come on ♪
Come on ♪
Come on ♪
Yeah, yeah ♪
- Come on ♪
- Baby, shake it ♪
Come on, shake it, shake it ♪
It's kind of like softball.
Make sure everybody's playing their role.
Like a coach on the field.
And it was just so cool
to have the team back up again.
Julie, she didn't know what was going on.
Over the years, I'd bring some stuff home,
maybe drink this and that,
but everybody that she knew
was the same way.
So, she had no idea.
But I will say the money I made
helped out a whole lot around the house.
- Hard. Yay!
- Hey!
- What is that?
- Truck!
It's more comfortable
when you got a little breathing room.
Oh, my God!
Boy, Santa Claus must
have really liked you.
Oh, Christmas.
They got way too much.
For his birthday or just Christmas,
he's like
"I don't need anything.
Get you something."
Then I'd get him something
and he'd be,
"This is exactly what I wanted."
"This is so nice. This is nice material."
He's so funny.
Oh! What do you got?
He's kind to everybody.
He likes to cook for people,
make people happy.
Good job, big dog.
He's always been like that.
High five!
I wanna give 'em stuff
because when I was growing up
we didn't have a whole lot.
I grew up in, uh, single-wide trailers.
We didn't go out and just buy things
we really didn't need.
It was kind of rough.
I remember Walt Disney nights on Sundays,
you'd see the castle
and the fireworks, and I was like,
"Man, that must be so cool."
But we really didn't
have money to do that.
So, I wanted to do better for my kids.
- Kade, can you read that?
- Guess where we're going?
Going to Disneyland!
Julie always wanted to move.
The place I was looking at,
it's called The Reserve at Benson Creek.
I'm not big on subdivisions,
but I did like it out there.
I was sitting there picturing
how to maybe pull a coup off on that
and surprise Julie with it.
911, what's your emergency?
A bourbon heist in Kentucky,
nearly 200 bottles of 20-year-old
Pappy Van Winkle have been stolen
at the Buffalo Trace distillery
in Frankfort.
They are calling it the bourbon
theft of the decade.
You're watching the news, and then
all of a sudden, blam, Buffalo Trace,
one of the largest distilleries
in Kentucky, is on the news
and they're saying
they're missing this much, it was a heist
The estimated value
of the stolen bourbon
could be worth hundreds
of thousands of dollars.
Who is the Pappy Bandit?
The theft was reported
to the sheriff after an audit uncovered
that some bourbon was missing.
The search is just beginning
for 195 missing 20-year-olds
and their 13-year-old cousins
in hopes of bringing Pappy back home.
It hit the news media
and I called Toby right then and there.
Is any of those bottles or barrels
I bought involved in this?
I was worried.
He was like, "What's going on
with that Van Winkle?"
So, I told him, "Man, I didn't take it."
Don't get me wrong, there were things
I shouldn't have been doing.
But that was not one of 'em.
The one thing that I was blind to,
nobody anticipated
a media whore sheriff coming in.
The most dangerous place
in Franklin County during eight years
was between a camera and Pat Melton.
My dad was
a Jefferson County police officer.
I had an uncle that was chief and
two more that were lieutenants on Shively,
and then I had a cousin
that was a trooper.
Grew up eating off the table
from police officers.
Honor and pride and integrity
and everything that goes
into that was huge.
Police work's not about money,
it's not about the salary.
It's about service.
I was elected in 2010.
As sheriff, we came in
and took over an office
that basically was a good ol' boy office.
They did a great job collecting taxes,
but as far as anything else,
not a whole lot. I was different.
I was always posting things
on our Facebook page,
local Lexington TV stations
were all following us.
Pat's very savvy
when it comes to getting the media
to show up for his announcements.
I don't think anybody would say Pat was
shy about getting in front of cameras.
He's just very aggressive, very
Just really wanted every ounce
of publicity he could possibly get.
It's not unheard of
for the sheriff and the police chief
to have a contentious relationship.
Hi, I'm Pat Melton,
your Franklin County Sheriff
Sheriffs have to campaign
and get re-elected to keep their job.
So, sheriffs promote themselves
to ensure that they're reelected
another term.
That can wear on people's nerves.
You can say I'm a publicity hound,
whatever you want to.
We were getting the job done.
Sheriff Melton's a larger-than-life guy,
he takes pride in his work.
Pat doesn't have a stop.
He's only got one speed.
The definition of bull in a china shop,
that's him.
If he was next to me,
that's what I would say.
Some sit behind a desk,
don't make waves,
they're seen and not heard.
That didn't fly with me.
And if you're doing something wrong,
we're gonna find out.
The sheriff is confident his detectives
can and will close this case.
We're looking at the big picture.
Obviously, internal theft is
a part of that puzzle.
I knew this had to be an internal job,
no ifs, ands, or buts.
100% had to be an internal job.
How else do you get that much bourbon
out of a secure warehouse?
I said let's set up interviews, start
interviewing people, get our bearings.
Somebody's moving that much,
somebody's gonna talk.
We interviewed 100 employees down there.
Doing interviews, seeing what they knew.
Where were you during that time?
I was here working.
Send the next one in.
If they knew anything
- What about the missing Pappy?
- I'm the one who called it in.
Don't know anything
about the missing Pappy.
I was loading barrels.
I didn't
I don't have a clue. Why?
Thank you for your time, sir.
I don't know anything
about any missing Pappy.
You and everybody else.
I don't understand.
They went there and literally sat down
and interviewed at least 100 people.
And, you know, nobody told.
You interview 110 people
and you can't get
one person to say something?
There's a problem.
There was constant news coverage,
and Pat was on the hunt.
Detectives still
don't have a suspect
despite more than 100 people
having been interviewed.
It's funny, because I was thinking
to myself, "They have no idea."
I wasn't nervous at all.
Run on ♪
Run on ♪
Run on ♪
Run on ♪
Wherever you may ♪
Run on
For a long time ♪
Sooner or later, God'll cut you down ♪
Sooner or later, God'll cut you down ♪
Detectives think it was an inside job,
but they are still no closer to answers.
You had a lot of people
that thought, "They'll never solve that."
With all the media coverage
we were getting on this case,
it adds a whole lot of pressure,
but I always thrived under pressure.
I always made better decisions,
and I knew this was a solvable case.
Well, you know I've been down
On a bended knee ♪
Talking to the man from Galilee ♪
He spoke my name
And my heart stood still ♪
When he said, Son, go and do my will ♪
Run on ♪
Wherever you may ♪
Run on
For a long time ♪
Sooner or later, God'll cut you down ♪
Sooner or later, God'll cut you down ♪
Well, you can throw your rocks
And hide your hand ♪
Or work in the dark
Against your fellow man ♪
Sure as God almighty
Made the black and white ♪
What's done in the shadows
Will be brought to light ♪
Run on ♪
Run on ♪
Wherever you may ♪
Run on
For a long time ♪
Sooner or later, God'll cut you down ♪
Sooner or later, God'll cut you down ♪
There's somebody that is waiting
for the right motivator.
$10,000 ought to motivate anybody.
I just knew we were gonna find out.
Just a matter of time.
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