A US judge on Thursday delayed until Aug. 4 the sentencing of disgraced Indonesian wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan for manufacturing and selling fake vintages for millions of US dollars.
Kurniawan, 37, was convicted in December of blending and selling hundreds of fake bottles of wine, as well as fraudulently obtaining a US$3 million loan.
US Judge Richard Berman had been due to sentence the fraudster on Thursday, but delayed it a fourth time pending clarification on the number of victims and the amount he defrauded them.
Government prosecutors say he hoodwinked more than 10 victims out of more than US$20 million. The defense says the total amount is closer to US$8 million to US$9 million. The adjournment until Aug. 4 allows the defense time to go over the government’s report on the matter.
It has been an astonishing fall from grace for a man once considered one of the top five wine collectors in the exclusive world of vintage wine, but who has no legal status in the US.
He built his success on an exceptional palate, capable of identifying and memorizing the world’s finest wines beloved by the richest people on the planet.
However, he was found guilty of defrauding buyers and collectors from 2004 through 2012 by selling counterfeit bottles of purportedly rare and expensive wine. Prosecutors branded him an arch liar motivated by greed, a man who made millions of US dollars selling bogus vintages blended in the California home he shared with his Chinese mother.
The defense portrayed him as an outsider who desperately wanted to fit into the richer, older world of rare wine collectors.
He mixed and blended lower-priced wines to mimic the taste and character of far more expensive wines; poured them into empty bottles of rare wines, sealed them with corks and furnished them with counterfeit labels.
His two convictions carried a maximum sentence of 20 years each. However, government prosecutors have called for him to be jailed for 11 to 14 years and fined US$175,000. The defense has requested a sentence of time served — the 28 months he has been held in custody since his arrest on March 8, 2012, and a fine limited to US$12,500.
He was convicted by a New York jury in December after less than two hours of deliberations.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including