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Jan 15, 2014 06:28 AM

US lawyer arrested in undercover fine wine sting

(but he was in Pennsylvania -- who can blame him?)

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  1. Caught with his legal briefs down, so to speak.

    1. I wonder what happens with the confiscated wine - do you suppose they have a temperature controlled evidence room?

      18 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        From what I have seen of confiscated alligator hides, no. Scores of thousands of dollars of illegally harvested alligator have rotted in government warehouses, necessitating more expensive and wasteful legal work to recover. Much of that wine is lost, I suspect. (and if the public catches wind of the Feds spending money to keep the wine properly, they'll howl about elitism).

        1. re: hazelhurst

          How idiotic it would be if the wine were allowed to go bad. It should be consigned to a wine auctioneer in a nearby state after the evidence holding period lapses.

          1. re: Veggo

            makes me think of the apparent travesty as a result of Sandy..I gather an awful lot of "safe" wine was obliterated and there was, of course, a lot of fraud going on.

                1. re: csh123

                  Pennsylvania is one of, if not *the* last of the states where the ONLY authorized retailer is the State of Pennsylvania itself. If the state does not authorize and stock the wine, it becomes exceedingly difficult to obtain -- unless, of course, one drives to New Jersey, or buys the wine illegally from a lawyer (apparently).

                  Direct shipping is prohibited; carrier shipping is prohibited. Everything is prohibited!

                  1. re: zin1953

                    It's a money maker for the state, despite the high wages for State Store employees. The stores are stark and often poorly stocked. They don't sell beer. Beer is bought in bars by the 6-pack or in beer stores by the case. It is effectively a communist system.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      <It is effectively a communist system.>

                      If it is a communist system, then everyone should have beer and wine without paying a dollar. It is a state monopoly (kinda)

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Shops in communist Cuba that sell basic items charge in national pesos, no goods are free. I don't count housing as a good.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          What the heck are you talking about?!?!?

                          Are you speaking literally? Yes, you are correct: they wouldn't pay "a dollar"; they'd be paying in Russian rubles, Chinese yuan, Polish zlottys, East German ostmarks, Hungarian forints, etc. ,etc., etc.

                          Or are you speaking metaphorically? Distilled spirits, wine, beer -- even kvass (квас) and samogon (самого́н) -- ALL cost rubles in the Soviet Union! (Unless, of course, you were a foreigner, or had special papers that permitted normally banned Soviet citizens to shop in a beryozka [Берёзка], in which case -- yes! -- you WOULD pay in dollars!)

                          1. re: zin1953

                            Let's not get into a debate about communist systems here, please.

                        2. re: Veggo

                          the state stores have gotten a lot better in the last few years, actually. There are even a few really knowledgeable employees (only a few) and the new stores are much nicer.
                          I've also learned that what a store stocks has a lot to do with the employees of that store, so if one finds a good employee and sticks with her store it can be ok-ish (though this is in Philadelphia at "Premium Collection" stores so it may not apply in Altoona)

                          1. re: caganer

                            >>> the state stores have gotten a lot better in the last few years, actually. <<<

                            Yes, well, from where they were, there was nowhere else to go but up!

                        3. re: zin1953

                          Not strictly true. you can buy from the vitner himself.

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            OK, so there are approx. 116 outlets where you can buy wine (grape and/or fruit) off sale *besides* a state store . . . I stand corrected.


                            / / / / /

                            Just for the sake of accuracy, Pennsylvania produced 3,589,603 gallons, or 0.476%, of the still (i.e.: non-sparkling, non-flavored, non-fortified) wine¹ made in the US in 2012. That's enough to put PA in 5th place in terms of volume.

                            ¹ What I don't know is if these figures *only* count grape wine, or if fruit wines are also included.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Uh, did you actually *read* that article?

                              It states that

                              1. Alabama: (Liquor stores are state-run or on-premise establishments with a special off-premise license.) In other words, there are non-state owned establishments that can sell retail.

                              2. Idaho (Maintains a monopoly over sales of beverages with greater than 16% ABV.) In other words, fortified wines, like Port & Sherry, and distilled spirits are sold in state stores; beer, table wine, and sparkling wines are not.

                              3. Iowa (Does not operate retail outlets.) In other words, they don't sell directly to consumers.

                              4. Maine (State-contracted to private businesses for commission) In other words, private businesses sell to consumers.

                              5. Maryland (Under state law the counties of Montgomery, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester are county alcohol controlled which mandates that off-premise liquor sales are to be conducted only at county owned and operated dispensaries/stores. One exception exists in Montgomery County, four grocery stores had their licenses grandfathered prior to the change of the law.[4] Until recently Dorchester County was an alcohol control county until the County Council voted to permanently shutter the county owned liquor dispensaries.) In other words, it's complicated . . . .

                              6. Michigan (Does not operate retail outlets; maintains a monopoly over wholesaling of distilled spirits only.) in other words, they do not sell to the public, nor do they control the wholesale sales of beer or wine.

                              7. Mississippi (State-contracted liquor stores). In other words, it's like Maine.

                              8. Montana (State-contracted liquor stores, modeled after the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission)[5] In other words, it's like Maine.

                              9. New Hampshire (Beer and wine can be sold at supermarkets & convenience stores; spirits and liqueurs are sold only in state-run liquor stores.) In other words, private stores -- from gas stations to supermarkets, AND wine merchants -- sell beer and wine. You want whiskey? Go to a state-owned store.

                              10. North Carolina (Beer and wine can be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores; other spirits must be sold in liquor stores owned by local ABC boards. The State ABC Commission controls wholesale distribution and oversees local ABC boards.) In other words, it's like New Hampshire.

                              11. Ohio (Appoints businesses to sell liquor, as agents of the state, for a commission; these stores have a monopoly on sales of beverages with an alcohol content equal to or greater than 21.5% ABV [43 proof]. Beer, wine, mixed alcoholic beverages, and "low proof" alcohol are sold by the aforementioned contract liquor agencies as well as by businesses [bars, restaurants, convenience stores, and gasoline/convenience store retailers] which have been issued an annual permit to sell. Privileges [such as sale for carryout only or for consumption on the premises] and hours during which sales are allowed are dependent on the terms of the permit.) In other words, private businesses sell beer and wine.

                              12. Oregon (Beer and wine can be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores; other spirits must be sold in liquor stores operated and managed by state-appointed liquor agents who act as independent contractors under the supervision of the OLCC.) In other words, it's like New Hampshire.

                              13. Pennsylvania (All liquor stores [wine and spirits] are run by the state. Malt beverages are sold in case lots by licensed beer retailers (known as "distributors") and in smaller quantities by on-premise establishments.) IN OTHER WORDS, THE STATE CONTROLS EVERYTHING.

                              14. Utah (all beverages over 3.2% ABW [4.0% ABV] are sold in state-run stores, Utah code 5(a)(i))[6] In other words, except for 3.2% beer, THE STATE CONTROLS EVERYTHING.

                              15. Vermont (Liquor stores are state-contracted and licensed) In other words, it's like Maine.

                              16. Virginia (Beer and wine ≤14% ABV sold at supermarkets and convenience stores; all liquor stores are run by the state) In other words, it's like Idaho.

                              17. West Virginia (Does not operate retail outlets; maintains a monopoly over wholesaling of distilled spirits only.) In other words, it's like Michigan; consumes buy from privately-owned businesses.

                              18. Wyoming (Does not operate retail outlets). In other words, as in most states, the retail outlets are private businesses.

                              / / / / /

                              EVERY state issues licenses to retailers and wholesalers operating within their state -- presuming that private companies are allowed; and typically, retailers can only buy from state-licensed wholesalers. In that regard, all 50 states have some "control" over sales. But no state is as tightly controlled as the absolute monopoly run by the State of Pennsylvania . . . though Utah is a close second.

                      2. re: Veggo

                        You know it does not work like that.

                  2. Well, I am glad that he got caught. On the other hand, what is so big deal about this that it makes into the news? Is it because he is a lawyer?