NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A prosecutor has told a New York jury that a California wine collector put on a “magic show” to fool aficionados into thinking he had access to the world’s rarest bottles.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti made the statement during his closing argument Tuesday at the criminal trial of Rudy Kurniawan.
The prosecution said Kurniawan made millions of dollars from 2004 to 2012 by manufacturing fake vintage wine in his Arcadia, Calif., kitchen.
He’s accused of selling more than $1.3 million worth of counterfeit bottles to other wealthy collectors. The prosecutor says the key ingredients were “smoke and mirrors.”
Billionaire Bill Koch was one of the collectors who testified against Kurniawan during the trial.
Koch told the jury that he personally spent more than $3 million purchasing supposedly rare vintage Burgundy and Bordeaux wines from Kurniawan and all were fake.
“He’s a clever counterfeiter,” said Koch. “But he made some stupid mistakes. For example, he sold a rare French wine supposedly from 1928, which was six years before that particular wine was ever bottled.”
The jury was also shown photographs of Kurniawan’s home factory strewn with empty bottles, corks, labels and glue, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.
Defense attorney Jerome Mooney has portrayed his client, who was arrested last year, as a scapegoat.
Kurniawan has pleaded not guilty. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
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