Wine collector gets 10 years in prison for scamming other collectors out of $30 million

By Daniel S Levine,

Wine collector Rudy Kurniawan was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a New York judge Thursday. He was convicted of scamming other collectors out of $30 million by selling them his bottles of a “homemade witch’s brew” as rare wines.

Kurniawan, 37, was convicted back in December. Thursday, prosecutor Stanley Okula told the judge that he was “a prolific purveyor of plonk,” reports The New York Daily News.

His attorney, Jerome Mooney, asked Judge Richard Berman for a lighter sentence, since many of his victims were wealthy collectors who could “take care of themselves.” Mooney also noted that “nobody died” in his scam.

Mooney said that Kurniawan really did love wine as much as the collectors he was selling his fake stuff to and did it to fit in. Okula didn’t buy it, saying that Kurniawan clearly did it just for the money. “Did he need a Lamborghini to 'fit in?'” Okula asked.

According to Reuters, prosecutors were hoping for 12-14 years in prison and Kurniawan’s attorneys were hoping their client would just get off on time served. Berman decided 10 years, as Kurniawan has already been in police custody for 29 months.

One of Kurniawan’s victims was billionaire William Koch, who did testify during the trial. Koch has filed a $3 million civil suit against them.

Berman also ordered Kurniawan to pay back a $28.4 million settlement in restitution to the victims.



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