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US storage owner admits stealing up to $1.5m of fine wine

A wine storage business owner in the US has admitted to stealing up to $1.5m-worth of fine wines from collectors.

William Lamont Holder, 54, stole between $550,000 and $1.5m of wine from his clients, who were mostly private collectors and businesses, over a five-year period, according to the US attorney’s office in Maryland.

Holder, of Hanover in Maryland, faces an 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of wire fraud.

The attorney’s office said that Holder defrauded fine wine collectors via his ownership of Safe Harbour Wine Storage.

He collected monthly payments from customers in return for storing their ‘upscale wines’, but was in reality trying to sell their prized bottles to retailers around the country, including to retailers in Napa, according to the attorney’s office.

‘After the buyers selected the bottles they wanted to purchase, Holder boxed and shipped the wine, and sent his bank account information,’ it said.

‘Holder kept the proceeds from the sales and spent it on personal expenses,’ it added.

If the plea agreement between Holder and the US justice department is accepted by the court, Holder will be sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

A sentencing hearing before US district judge Catherine C Blake was scheduled for 31 July.


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