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Rudy Kurniawan appeals wine fraud conviction

Rudy Kurniawan has appealed against his conviction for making and selling millions of dollars-worth of fake fine wines in his Los Angeles home.

Labels found in Kurniawan’s home during an FBI search in March 2012. Image credit: FBI

One of Kurniawan’s defence lawyers, Jerry Mooney, confirmed to Decanter.com that an appeal was filed with a New York court on 10 April.

Kurniawan, also known as Dr Conti for his prolific counterfeiting of rare Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wines, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in the US after being convicted in December 2013 of making and selling fake wines – plus fraudulently attemping to get a $3m loan.

If his appeal is successful, there could be a re-trial. Government officials have until 10 July to respond to the appeal filing, Mooney said. It could be the end of the year before a final ruling is made.

In the appeal document, Kurniawan’s lawyers have returned to a previous argument that the FBI search on the Indonesian’s Los Angeles home in 2012 was illegal, because officers had not secured the appropriate warrant.

To verify that Kurniawan lived at the address, the document says that one FBI officer knocked on Kurniawan’s door on 7 March and pretended to be a neighbour who had lost a pet.

On the next day at 6am, the FBI raided Kurniawan’s home, forced him and his ‘frail’ mother to stand outside during the process, and subsequently arrested him. He was in custody from that point onwards.

Kurniawan’s lawyers argued that the conviction for making and selling counterfeit wines should be dismissed – because the FBI did not have the proper warrant at the time of the arrest – and that the second conviction for fraudulently obtaining a $3m loan would then automatically be unsafe.

Separately, the appeal document also says that the impact on Kurniawan’s victims has been exaggerated. ‘The prices paid for the bottles of counterfeit wine greatly exaggerated the real financial impact on the purchasers,’ the document says.

‘That is not to say that Rudy’s conduct in any way should be lauded or excused,’ it adds.

Written by Chris Mercer

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