“Sour Grapes” wine fraud con man deported to Indonesia

Food & Drink

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A former Californian man who raised wine collectors out of millions by selling cheaper booze bottled in his kitchen was deported to his native Indonesia, U.S. immigration officials said Tuesday.

Rudy Kurniawan, 44, was deported last week on a commercial flight from Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport to Jakarta, US Customs and Immigration Services announced.

“He is a threat to public safety because of his increased conviction for a crime,” the statement said.

Kurniawan came to the US on a student visa in the 1990s. He unsuccessfully sought political asylum and was ordered to leave the country voluntarily in 2003 but remained illegal,announced the authorities.

Kurniawan, whose family gained wealth from a beer distribution in Indonesia, was convicted of postal and wire fraud in federal court in New York in 2013 and served seven years in prison. He was deported after being released from prison in immigration custody last November.

In a public black eye for the wine industry, prosecutors for the New York trial against Kurniawan said he made millions of dollars from 2004 to 2012 selling cheaper Napa and Burgundy wines at his home in Arcadia, a suburb of Los Angeles have filled fake bottles.

The scheme was described in the 2016 Netflix documentary “Sour Grapes” and in a March episode of ABC’s “The Con”.

Kurniawan’s trial included testimony from billionaire, sailor, entrepreneur, and wine investor William Koch, who said he had been scammed and cheated by Kurniawan into paying $ 2.1 million for 219 counterfeit bottles of wine.

A wine expert testified that 19, 000 counterfeit wine bottle labels representing 27 of the world’s finest wines were collected at the Kurniawan property.

An FBI raid on the house in 2012 also revealed hundreds of bottles, corks and postage stamps.

Kurniawan has made a name for itself as a buyer and seller of rare wines and has earned tens of millions of dollars in wine auctions. Other collectors called him “Dr. Conti ”for his love for a Burgundian wine, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Kurniawan sold $ 24.7 million in wine at auction in 2006, a record for a single recipient.

However, the system began to disintegrate after several shipments it had submitted for auction were found to be counterfeit. In 2007, Christie’s Los Angeles auction house pulled a shipment of the magnums of the 1982 Château Le Pin after the company claimed the bottles were counterfeit.

In 2008, 22 lots of Domaine Ponsot wine valued at more than US $ 600,000 were sold. Dollars pulled out of a sale with questions about their authenticity.

A bottle of Domaine Ponsot that Kurniawan attempted to sell at auction in 2008 was given as manufactured in 1929,although the winemaker did not start bottling goods until 1934, in 1945 and 1971, although Domaine Ponsot said they would not use this vineyard until 1982.

Kurniawan also auctioned more magnums from a 1947 Château Lafleur than were actually produced, prosecutors said.

In total, Kurniawan may have sold up to 12,000 bottles of counterfeit wine, many of which may still remain in collections, prosecutors said the money from the fraud was funding a lavish lifestyle in suburban Los Angeles that included a Lamborghini and other luxury cars, Designer clothes as well as good food and drink belonged. The government confiscated his property.

When convicted, Kurniawan was ordered to kill seven victims 28,Pay $ 4 million in restitution and forfeit $ 20 million in property.

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