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Wine Spectator: Kurniawan Loses Bid to Exclude Counterfeiting Evidence

January 18, 2013

A federal judge has ruled that FBI agents acted properly when they searched the California home of accused wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan moments after arresting him last year, reports Wine Spectator. At a January 17 hearing in a New York courtroom, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman denied a motion by Kurniawan’s attorneys to exclude evidence found during the search. Kurniawan must now decide whether to go to trial or change his plea of not guilty.

It was seven years ago this month that Acker Merrall & Condit held an auction in New York based on Kurniawan’s cellar. Among the lots was a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti 1934 that sold for $12,925, a six-bottle lot of Roumier Bonnes Mares that sold for $28,955, and a 10-bottle lot of Château Cheval-Blanc 1947 that sold for $48,260. According to the indictment of Kurniawan, dated last May, all those wines were counterfeit.

Berman scheduled a conference with the lawyers for February 14 to determine what will happen next in the case. It appears that Kurniawan’s options are to go to trial or try and negotiate a plea bargain. Besides being charged with selling counterfeit wine, Kurniawan is also accused of schemes to defraud a finance company by falsifying his application for a $3 million loan, of double-pledging art works as collateral for additional loans from a New York auction house, and of attempting to defraud a California collector and the New York auction house. According to Kurniawan’s attorney, Michael Proctor, his client remains “strong and focused on his case.”


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