The US Justice Department has rejected the claim by alleged wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan that FBI agents illegally searched his house after arresting him on 8 March this year.
Kurniawan’s attorneys were seeking to exclude evidence found during a search of his Los Angeles home.
According to the Wine Spectator, while the government didn’t obtain a search warrant until later that day, the FBI did not violate the Fourth Amendment by immediately entering the house and conducting an initial search.
As part of the search, agents obtained a key from Kurniawan to a locked room. Entering it, they found what they describe as, “a wine counterfeiting workshop.”
In the memorandum, filed on Tuesday, Justice Department lawyers defended the warrantless search of the premises for three reasons:
A protective sweep of the house was required to ensure that nobody was lurking who might put the agents in danger.
The house had to be secured pending the agents’ return with a search warrant. Finally, agents had to make sure that no one would destroy evidence in the house.
Wine bottles found soaking in the sink at Kurniawan’s home
The WS reports that in a footnote, the lawyers state Kurniawan’s live in mother, Lenywati Tan, who declined to leave the house after his arrest, “could have destroyed evidence out of fear for her own potential criminal liability.”
After Kurniawan was arrested, a Mandarin-speaking agent remained in the house with Tan until agents returned to execute the search warrant.
Numerous photos were taken in Kurniawan’s home on the day of his arrest.
Among them are images of wine cases piled in the hallway, a running machine in the kitchen covered with wine bottles, and bottles soaking in the sink.
Another photo shows four bottles of Burgundy labeled as Henri Jayer Richebourg 1985 on top of a wine rack.
Kurniawan’s lawyers are scheduled to answer the government on 12 November.
On trial for four counts of fraud, Kurniawan is currently being held without bail at a Brooklyn federal detention facility.