Wine collector loses U.S. appeal of counterfeiting conviction

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday rejected the appeal of a prominent wine dealer who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling millions of dollars of rare and expensive counterfeit wine.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld the 2013 conviction and subsequent sentence of Rudy Kurniawan, 39, an Indonesian-born wine dealer who federal prosecutors called a “kingpin of counterfeit.”

On appeal, Kurniawan argued among other things that evidence secured from a warrantless search of his home following his arrest in 2012 should have been suppressed and that his 10-year prison sentence was unreasonable.

A three-judge panel called Kurniawan’s arguments “meritless.” A lawyer for Kurniawan did not immediately respond to a request for comment

Prosecutors said Kurniawan, from 2004 to 2012, engaged in a systematic scheme to defraud collectors and others by selling counterfeit bottles of rare and expensive wine.

Kurniawan produced hundreds of counterfeit bottles through a fake wine factory out of his home in California, using empty rare bottles, printing fake labels and spending thousands of dollars on traditional French wax, prosecutors said.

A Manhattan federal jury found Kurniawan guilty of one count of mail fraud related to counterfeiting wine and one count of wire fraud for defrauding a loan company on a $3 million loan.

At sentencing in August 2014, a federal judge said Kurniawan’s victims lost close to $30 million. Among the victims was the billionaire industrialist William Koch, who testified at the trial.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Alistair Bell