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Rudy Kurniawan Sentencing Delayed Until July 24

Judge demands federal prosecutors give him more information on victims of wine counterfeiter

Peter Hellman, Mitch Frank
Posted: July 14, 2014

Wine Spectator has learned that convicted wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan, the young collector who sold millions of dollars worth of fakes, will wait another week before he learns how much time he may serve in prison. According to sources close to the case, federal district judge Richard Berman has delayed sentencing until July 24. The reason? The judge appears to remain unsatisfied with the prosecution's details on how many people fell victim to Kurniawan's schemes and how much money they lost.

In addition, the prosecution asked for more time because the lead attorney for the government, Jason Hernandez, resigned last week. Hernandez told Wine Spectator his departure had been long planned to take a job as associate general counsel at HSBC.

A Manhattan jury found Kurniawan guilty last year of schemes to counterfeit wine and defraud a finance company. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years on each count and possible fines. In filings preparing for sentencing, Kurniawan's defense team asked the court to sentence their client to time served—nearly 29 months—while federal prosecutors called for a term of 14 years, plus a financial judgment of $20.7 million, based on what it estimates Kurniawan made from making and selling fakes. Upon his release from prison, Kurniawan is expected to face deportation to Indonesia.

On July 9, the judge sent a memo to the prosecution asking for more details on the damage Kurniawan inflicted. "The government is requested to furnish the court with a chart of all 'victims' in this case whether or not they are seeking restitution," Berman wrote. He asked for the names of all victims of Kurniawan's crimes, how they were victimized and how much money they lost. He also asked for details on "what steps, if any, victims took to avoid being victimized and, after the fact, to obtain relief and/or avoid victimization in the future."

In May, when Berman previously delayed Kurniawan's sentencing, he spent a long hearing peppering prosecutors with questions on the young Indonesian's victims. He asked how the government had arrived at its $20.7 million estimate of actual losses. A few major purchasers of Kurniawan's fake wine have been identified, but a "handful who bought $10 million combined are more hesitant to come forward," Hernandez told the judge. "We could subpoena them, but it would take months to go through their wine."

Prosecutors now have until July 16 to respond with more details.

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