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US deports convicted wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan

US immigration authorities have deported Rudy Kurniawan, who was previously convicted for conning wealthy collectors with fake versions of some of the world’s finest wines.

Rudy Kurniawan was deported on a commercial flight out of Dallas’ Fort Worth International Airport, said US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this week. 

Enforcement officers watched him leave, said ICE, which had held Kurniawan following his release from prison in late 2020.

He landed at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport outside Jakarta in his native Indonesia on Friday 12 April. 

Rudy Kurniawan deported by ICE.

Rudy Kurniawan. Photo credit: ICE.

Once known as ‘Dr Conti’ for his love of wines from Burgundy’s famous Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Kurniawan rose to prominence on the US fine wine scene in the first decade of this century. 

But in 2014 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found to have conned wealthy collectors out of millions of dollars by producing counterfeit versions of fine wines. 

Kurniawan was arrested in 2012 after FBI officers found fake labels, corks and wines in a raid on his home.

A New York court subsequently convicted him of mail and wire fraud following a two-week trial by jury in December 2013. 

During his trial, the court heard how Kurniawan fabricated fake versions of some of the world’s most renowned wines in his kitchen in Los Angeles – hidden from view by a foil-covered window. 

It also transpired that Kurniawan was living in the US illegally at the time. ICE said this week that Kurniawan had failed to depart the country when asked to do so in 2003.

Commenting on its decision to deport 44-year-old Kurniawan, ICE said, ‘He is a public safety threat because of his aggravated felony conviction.’ 

The Kurniawan story has since inspired the ‘Sour Grapes’ documentary film that was made available on Netflix.

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