US lawyer falls foul of state wine laws

22nd August, 2014 by Simon Howland

A 50-year-old lawyer avoided prison and was instead put on probation and ordered to undertake community service after breaching Pennsylvania’s state’s liquor laws, but his $125,000 collection of fine wine might not get off so lightly.

Arthur Goldman could see his wine collection destroyed

Arthur Goldman could see his wine collection destroyed

Police want to destroy 2,426 bottles of wine seized from the home of Arthur Goldman in Malvern, Pennsylvania, in January in accordance with state law, but Goldman has argued it is not your typical seizure according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Goldman, a lawyer with a practice in nearby Paoli, was charged with breaking internet wine sales laws by re-selling wines, unavailable from the state-owned liquor monopoly, without a liquor license online.

He maintained a list and kept about 20 people informed of wines he had available, one of whom was an undercover officer involved in a sting operation.

Police said officers made several undercover buys, including at Goldman’s home where some 90 boxes of wine estimated to be worth at least $US125,000 (£75,000) were kept.

Officials seized it all and charged Goldman with misdemeanours of illegally selling, purchasing and possessing or transporting liquor.

A county prosecutor described it as a “highly organized, high volume illegal business operation to make money.”

Under state liquor laws police are required to destroy bootleg booze, but wine lovers across the US have rallied in support of Goldman.

“It’s not like we’re talking about cocaine or heroin here,” said Tom Wark, executive director for the American Wine Consumer Coalition.

“We’re talking about a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2012 vintage.”

Goldman’s lawyer, Pete Kratsa, contended officials had it all wrong: “It was more like 15 to 20 people who liked wine like art, who he would get wine for.”

Kratsa insisted Goldman was grateful for his sentence, which will allow him to have his record expunged after the two-year probation was over.

But Kratsa compared Goldman’s actions to making a liquor run across state borders then charging his friends for gas, also illegal under Pennsylvania law, and argued the destruction of the stock would be excessive.

Sgt. Dan Steele, district commander at the Philadelphia Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement disagreed and said every bottle is contraband as each was offered for sale.

Kratsa argued the state would have trouble proving this case and said the majority of the collection was private and “would never have been sold.”

The Goldman cellar

The Goldman cellar

Pennsylvania, which has some of the strictest liquor laws in the US, is one of ten states which bans shipping directly to customers and one of two, the other being Utah, where the state government has complete control over the sale of wine and spirits.

“It is by far the worst state to live in if you’re a wine lover,” said Wark.

He said because so little of the wine available in the US can be bought in Pennsylvania the law creates the climate for an underground market.

And the law is not giving Goldman much in the way of options.

According to Kratsa, Goldman is open to having some of the wines sold with the proceeds going to charity.

But according to Renee Martin, a spokeswoman of the Attorney General’s office, unlike with other kinds of forfeitures that’s not allowed in regards to liquor under state law.

And the clock is ticking as there’s no guarantee the wines have aged well in the months since the seizure.

Since then the wine has been stored in an evidence room and Steele declined to comment on the wine’s “consumability.”

“At this point, the state police do not believe there is an obligation to store it in a climate-controlled environment,” he said.

“But it is being secured at room temperature.”

One Response to “US lawyer falls foul of state wine laws”

  1. Donate it to charity…

  2. Bruce Wickett says:

    What antiquated laws in a country like the United States. Get into the twenty first century, what is wrong with selling some wine to another aficionado? Then again there is no need to for the gun laws this same country has, they need revision like this backward state along with others need!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Manager – Midlands and South West

Pol Roger Portfolio
Midlands and South West

UK Brand Ambassador - That Boutique-y Gin Company

That Boutique-y Gin Company
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Senior National Account Manager – Grocery (Craft Spirits)

Maverick Drinks
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Senior National Account Manager – Wholesale RTM (Craft Spirits)

Maverick Drinks
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Digital Marketing Manager

Master of Malt
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

Experienced On Trade Sales Person

Borough Wine Imports
London, GB

3 x Business Development Executive

The Lakes Distillery Company Limited
Newcastle head office and nationwide, UK

Editor

Master of Malt Ltd
Tunbridge Wells(Kent)

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Brand Manager

Hallgarten Druitt
Luton, UK

Experienced On-Trade Salespeople Required

Portal Wines and Spirits
London, UK

Purchasing and Sales (Wine Trader)

JF Tobias
London, UK

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 17th April 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 14th April 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 12th May 2017

Click to view more

Global Chardonnay Masters 2016

Now in its fourth year, the competition will identify the best Chardonnay from all around the world in every price range.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Fortified Masters 2016

Now in its third year, The Fortified Masters will reward the best fortified wines on offer.

The Global Malbec Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the inaugural Global Malbec Masters 2016.

Click to view more