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Rudy Kurniawan sentencing delayed

Convicted wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan must wait until the end of May to be sentenced, after authorities requested more time to handle the case.

Kurniawan, who last December was found guilty by a jury of making and selling more than $1m of counterfeit fine wines that he had concocted in the kitchen of his Los Angeles home, was due to be sentenced in New York today (24 April).

But, the Indonesian national’s hearing has been rescheduled for 29 May. The probation team working on the case ‘needed more time’, one of Kurniawan’s defence lawyers, Jerry Mooney, told Decanter.com.

Alongside wine fraud, Kurniawan was also convicted of fraudulently attempting to get a $3m loan. He faces up to 40 years in prison, although several observers believe he may get significantly less than that.

Kurniawan is the first person to have faced criminal prosecution for wine fraud in the US. It took a 12-strong jury less than a single morning to convict him after several days of mounting evidence: from the foil cover on his kitchen window to the requests for empty bottles from restaurants and the presentation in court of counterfeit wines and labels that were found in the defendant’s home.

Prosecutors described how Kurniawan turned his home computer into a virtual ‘ATM machine’ that printed out fake labels.

Winemaker Laurent Ponsot told jurors that a purported Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis 1945 ‘cannot exist’, because the estate only began producing under this appellation in 1982.

Kurniawan’s defence team maintained throughout that their client was naively embroiled in a much bigger fine wine counterfeiting scene.

Billionaire wine collector Bill Koch, who also gave evidence at the trial after buying wines traced back to Kurniawan, still has a lawsuit pending against the Indonesian.

Koch is also trying to get Acker Merrall & Condit’s CEO, John Kapon, in court to explain how Acker Merrall came to sell counterfeit wines consigned by Kurniawan.

Meanwhile, allegations surrounding the authenticity of rare wine continue to cause problems for the industry. This week, it emerged that Atlanta-based wine collector Julian LeCraw has filed a lawsuit seeking $25m in damages from London-based Antique Wine Co, who he accuses of selling him several fake wines, including a supposed 1787 vintage Chateau d’Yquem. Antique Wine Co strongly denies wrongdoing.

Written by Chris Mercer

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