Former WineGavel online auction house founder and president Joshua Krummenoehl, who was arrested in New York in July on charges of grand theft by embezzlement for auctioning clients’ wine and never sending them the proceeds, has pleaded guilty in a Napa court to one count of felony embezzlement and an additional charge of “excessive taking,” applicable to crimes exceeding $200,000. The plea agreement was reached Nov. 13.
Krummenoehl had been charged with 12 counts of accepting wine to be sold through WineGavel’s online auctions, taking payment for the wines but failing to compensate the consignors. That was later increased to 13 counts. According to supervising inspector Carl Chapman of the Marin County district attorney’s office, Krummenoehl pled guilty to one count of fraud, while the other 12 counts were dismissed under a waiver that still holds the perpetrator accountable for restitution in the dismissed cases. Krummenoehl has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $501,510.
Sentencing for Krummenoehl is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015. He is currently out on bail. Felony embezzlement carries a potential sentence of up to three years in jail in California.
“I think everyone is happy with the outcome,” Chapman told Wine Spectator. “The courts are very busy so they want to get these cases through. All the victims are aware of the outcome and all seem to be content. Everybody’s just holding out for restitution.”
As for whether Krummenoehl has the means to settle up, Chapman is unsure. “We’ll all keep our fingers crossed.”
From 2002 to 2006, Krummenoehl was a warehouse manager for NY Wines, the Queens-based former license holder for Christie’s wine auctions. He founded WineGavel in 2009. Krummenoehl left the firm in April 2012 after private collectors who had consigned their wine to WineGavel but never received payment filed a series of lawsuits against him, WineGavel and parent company Bridgeview Enterprises, LLC. Those suits sparked the two-year criminal investigation.