CHICKASHA, Okla. — It’s a modest brick house on Chickasha’s busy Grand Ave.
Authorities said it doubled as a liquor store to underaged customers.
Grady County Sheriff Art Kell said, “This guy was buying alcohol from liquor stores, taking it to his house and selling it to anybody who would come up there. That’s why they call him the bootlegger.”
“Bootlegger Willie” to locals is really 84-year-old Lawrence Hayden.
The sheriff said his “operation” was a well-kept secret for years.
The sheriff was patrolling the Grady County Fairgrounds recently when he came upon a group of teens who were clearly intoxicated.
One of the kids was so drunk he nearly fell out of the car.
The sheriff told them, go to jail, or cooperate.
“They told me about this guy named ‘Bootlegger,'” Kell said. “I said, ‘Who’s this bootlegger?’ He’s been selling alcohol to anyone who wants it.”
Using an 18-year-old informant, the Grady County Sheriff launched a sting.
He sent the teen in with a marked $20.
The young man returned with an 80-proof bottle of Sunny Brook Kentucky Blended Whiskey.
The alleged bootlegger was arrested for selling to a minor.
Kell said, “How many of these wrecks over the past decade that he’s sold to, they died. This is sad.”
We found Hayden out of jail and outside his home Tuesday morning.
He said, “I don’t want you taking my picture. ‘Have you been selling alcohol to minors?’ NO!”
But investigators said he had a closet full of cheap liquor and a wallet full of cash.
Deputies plan to keep an eye on their so-called “Bootlegger Willie” to make the senior citizen stays out of the booze business for good.