Thief of up to $1.5M in client wine gets 18 months in federal prison

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A federal judge sentenced a Maryland man to 18 months in federal prison for stealing wine worth between $550,000 and $1.5 million from clients, including some in Napa. They paid him to transport and store it, but he resold the bottles.

William Lamont Holder, 54, of Hanover, Maryland, was also ordered by Maryland District Judge Catherine C. Blake to pay $1.5 million in restitution, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office. His jail time will be followed by three months of supervised release, court documents said.

The Business Journal previously reported Holder pleaded guilty in May to a wire fraud charge in federal court in relation to his Safe Harbour Wine Storage LLC business.

According to prosecutors, from the beginning of 2013 through the end of 2017, Holder transported and stored upscale wines for private collectors and commercial establishments, developing a scheme to obtain payments and wine from the customers of Safe Harbour for his own personal financial gain

“In return for a monthly fee, Holder would arrange for the transportation of a customer’s wine to Safe Harbour’s storage facility in Glen Burnie, Maryland, where it would be inventoried and stored,” the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in a press release July 31.

Holder would then send detailed lists of the bottles in his storage facility to buyers, as if he were the owner, who selected the bottles they wanted and sent him a check or wired him money.

The Business Journal also previously reported Holder’s indictment lists four purchase letters from an undisclosed Napa wine broker or brokers through 2016 for 932 bottles totaling $89,774. There’s also was a faxed list of 92 bottles to an unnamed Washington, D.C., retailer totaling $15,000.

Safe Harbor Wine Storage in Napa is not connected to Holder’s company, according to an email from Joel Green, general manager and winemaker.

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