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Kurniawan loses second appeal against conviction

Convicted wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan has lost a second appeal against a 10-year sentence handed down in 2014 after he was found guilty of selling millions of dollars of rare and expensive counterfeit wine, conning his victims out of an estimated $30 million.

Kurniawan is eight months in to a 10 year prison sentence (Photo: Creative Commons)

On Monday, US District Judge Richard Berman rejected Kurniawan’s appeal, which argued that his trial lawyers failed him by not demanding hearings to suppress evidence discovered when he was arrested at his home in Arcadia, California, in 2012.

As reported by Reuters, Berman said he would not second-guess the lawyers’ “strategic decision” not to demand hearings, and that holding them would not have mattered because authorities already had probable cause to believe Kurniawan was selling “rare and expensive” counterfeit Burgundy wines at auction.

It is the second time an appeal lodged by Kurniawan following his sentencing has been rejected by a judge.

In 2015, a US attorney lodged an appeal against Kurniawan’s 10-year prison sentence, arguing that his sentence had been overly harsh and calling for a dismissal of the conviction. That appeal was rejected in December of that year.

Up to 12,000 bottles of fake vintages are believed to have been manufactured by Kurniawan in 2006 alone, using empty rare bottles and printing fake labels. Kurniawan would mix old wine with newer vintages in his kitchen before passing them off as more expensive wines, before selling the bottles at at auction, using the collateral to secure a loan of $3 million.

In 2012, Kurniawan was found guilty of one count of mail fraud related to counterfeiting wine and one count of wine fraud for defrauding a loan company on a $3 million loan. Kurniawan’s victims lost close to $30 million between them, which included billionaire Bill Koch who testified at the trial.

Kurniawan is held at the Taft Correctional Institute in California and is not eligible for release until January 2021.

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