Kurniawan pleads for sympathy6th May, 2014 by Lauren Eads
Wine fraudster, Rudy Kurniawan, has pleaded for sympathy ahead of his sentencing claiming he only bottled fake vintages because he felt pressured to keep up with “elite collectors” and wanted to impress famous friends such as Jackie Chan.
The 37-year-old is facing up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced at the end of this month after he found guilty on several counts of fraud by a New York Jury in December.
Between 2004 to 2012, Kurniawan is believed to have manufactured 12,000 bottles of fake vintages which he then sold at auction in 2006 for $1.3million before using the counterfeit wines as collateral to secure a loan of $3 million.
However the convicted fraudster has said he should instead receive time served because he only carried out his scheme to impress new friends such as Jackie Chan and keep up with the wine collecting elite, according to a report by the NYdailynews.com.
Prosecutors at the trial argued Kurniawan was motivated by “greed” and an “unquenchable thirst for luxury cars, designer clothing and the finest food and drinks.”
However the Indonesian-born wine dealer claims his crimes were motivated by friendship — not money.
A paper filed by lawyers representing Kurniawan at the Manhattan Federal Court read: “Rudy liked being the center of attention.
“He wanted to enjoy the spotlight and the recognition of this special group of people.”
Referring to a party in which actor Jackie Chan was a guest of honour at a party for Kurniawan’s mother, the paper read: “The highlight of the evening for Rudy was when Jackie Chan stood on a chair and applauded Rudy.”
“It was the best night of his life.”
Kurniawan is due to be sentenced on May 29.