After allegedly concocting a scheme to obtain money fraudulently based on false promises, the owner of wine retailer in another state may spend many years in federal prison if he is convicted. Oregon consumers may be aware of the ongoing case against the owner of Premier Cru, a wine retailer. He is accused of committing wire fraud by means of electronic communications. He recently surrendered to federal marshals, and it is expected that he will change a prior not guilty plea to guilty.
The business was known for offering imported wines on future deliveries at discounted prices. However, the owner was sued by several customers last year amid claims that wine that was ordered and paid for was not supplied. Customers were angered when the business filed for bankruptcy shortly after the lawsuits were filed, and this was followed by the owner filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy for his business and subsequently in a personal capacity. According to the bankruptcy documents, liabilities of $70 million were comprised mostly of unfilled orders for approximately 9,000 customers located across the country and worldwide.
The business owner is accused of running this scheme for about six years, during which time he allegedly used the money he received for ordered wines to secure outstanding orders for other customers -- in effect, a Ponzi scheme. The one charge of wire fraud against him relates to a transaction between the accused man and a client abroad. It refers to $102,271 he received by wire transfer as partial payment for nearly 1,600 bottles of wine (at a total cost of some $981,000). It is alleged that the client received fewer than 100 bottles.
Wire fraud is a federal offense. Defending such charges can be complicated and may be best handled by an experienced Oregon criminal defense attorney who is skilled in navigating federal cases. Accused individuals are entitled to challenge the formal accusations, and the prosecution will be burdened with proving all elements of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Source: bizjournals.com, "Berkeley wine retailer to plead guilty to criminal charges, faces 20 years in prison", Tessa Love, Aug. 10, 2016