An FBI officer who was part of the raid on Rudy Kurniawan's house has told a court of how agents found the alleged wine fraudster's house littered with labels of famous wine chateaux, bottles and bottling equipment.
Photos shown during the third day of Kurniawan’s trial depicted racks of wine bottles, stacks of labels and boxes of bottling equipment, including corks and date stamping devices, which were allegedly discovered all over Kurniawan’s home during the FBI raid in March last year that led to his arrest, jurors in the US District Court, Southern District of New York heard yesterday (11 December).
State prosecutors used their second full day in court to delve into greater detail about Kurniawan’s alleged fraud, attempting to piece together small details to form a bigger picture of the defendant’s operation.
FBI agent James Wynne, acting as a witness, described photos purportedly showing racked bottles with no capsules, as well as a stencil.
The court was also shown packs of labels seized from Kurniawan’s Los Angeles house, which he shared with his mother. There were labels for several top French estates from Bordeaux and Burgundy, including Mouton-Rothschild, Latour, Rousseau, La Mission Haut-Brion, Domaine Roumier and Le Pin, as well as from California’s Screaming Eagle.
A significant number of labels showed Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, from various vintages over the past century. In the wine trade, Kurniawan was known as ‘Dr Conti’ for his supposed in-depth knowledge of the renowned Burgundy estate.
Agent Wynne also testified that various details on bottles discovered at Kurniawan’s home appeared to have been a ‘cut and paste’ job.
The prosecution also presented various emails and correspondence found on Kurniawan’s computer. One transaction highlighted appeared to show how Kurniawan had purchased sealing wax in ‘red, forest green, burgundy and black’, for US$767.60.
Prosecution lawyer Jason Hernandez previously described Kurniawan’s computer as like ‘a virtual ATM machine that printed out thousand dollar bills in the form of fake wine labels’.
Kurniawan’s defence team will get to put its full case in a few days’ time. During cross-examination of FBI witness James Wynne yesterday, Kurniawan’s lawyers cast doubt on how much information could be gleaned from photo exhibits. They have argued that Kurniawan is an outsider who became embroiled within a much bigger problem of counterfeiting in the fine wine sector.
The trial continues.
Written by Chris Mercer