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Wednesday 23 April 2014

Kurniawan jury told to consider verdict

18th December, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

The trial of alleged wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan wrapped up in New York yesterday with the prosecution telling the jury that he duped his victims into buying fake wines due to greed.

As reported by AFP, Kurniawan’s defense hit back at the claims, insisting that the 37-year-old never intended to deceive anyone.

The 12-person jury will start deliberating today (Wednesday) on whether Kurniawan is innocent or guilty of fraud.

Prosecutors say Kurniawan is a liar motivated by greed, while the defense portrays a scapegoat keen to fit into a rarefied world of rich wine collectors.

“He wanted to be part of the club,” Kurniawan’s lawyer Jerome Mooney told the court in his closing argument yesterday.

The prosecution claims some 1,000 fake wines came from what Kurniawan allegedly called his “magic cellar” – a lab set up in the kitchen of the LA home he shared with his mother.

“This was an operation on a massive scale. He sold wine to victims all over the world. For a while the magic worked, and he sold his fake wines for millions of dollars but there was no magic, only the defendant’s lies,” said prosecutor Joseph Facciponti.

“Why did he tell all his lies? Because of greed. That’s what this case is about, the defendant’s lies and his greed,” Facciponti added.

Indonesian-born Kurniawan faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of wire and postal fraud. His sentence will be fixed by the judge if he is found guilty by the jury.

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