Fraud charges filed against wine exec Chris Edwards

2013-06-17T18:16:00Z 2014-04-16T17:32:48Z Fraud charges filed against wine exec Chris EdwardsKERANA TODOROV Napa Valley Register
June 17, 2013 6:16 pm  • 

A 48-year-old Napa man has been indicted for fraud in federal court for stealing $900,000 from an online wine fulfillment company, according to federal prosecutors. He is now considered a fugitive, federal officials said.

Martin Christopher Edwards — known as Chris — was the former vice president and general manager of The Wine Tasting Network. He is suspected of creating a fictitious company to provide tax compliance services to the Wine Tasting Network.

Prosecutors allege Edwards, who ran unsuccessfully for Napa City Council in 2003 and 2005, created fraudulent invoices and directed The Wine Tasting Network to make payments totaling $900,000 between May 2010 and October 2012 to the fictitious company, Dufrane Compliance Trust, according to federal prosecutors.

Edwards allegedly deposited the funds into an account and withdrew the money for his own personal use, including the June 2012 purchase of a 2008 BMW, prosecutors said.

Edwards was indicted on May 30 in United States District Court after a two-month investigation. On Monday, he failed to appear in court in San Francisco and is considered a fugitive, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The May 30 complaint contains 23 counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, according to the filing unsealed Monday.

Edwards faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count of mail and wire fraud and 10 years imprisonment for each count of money laundering.

Edwards also faces two fines of $250,000 or twice the gross gain stemming from the offenses, plus restitution, according to the federal officials.

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(8) Comments

  1. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - June 17, 2013 7:38 pm
    For those of you who didn't see through him from the beginning, from a 2005 Napa Register article.

    Chris Edwards

    City Council candidate Chris Edwards, 40, has not been involved in civil lawsuits, according to the Register search. But he was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of larceny in Cabarrus County, North Carolina.

    Edwards, whose full name is Martin Christopher Edwards, said his former wife wrote thousands of dollars in bad checks using a joint account.

    "Soon after that we got a divorce," he said.

    Criminal records in North Carolina show Edwards was originally charged with two felony counts of embezzlement, but Edwards agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of larceny for an amount more than $200 and was ordered to pay restitution to Hardees, a Southern fast food chain. He worked in the company's corporate office at the time.

    Officials at the Cabarrus County criminal courts confirmed the original charges, the plea deal and the fact that Hardees received restitution. A staffer said the office no longer had full documentation of the case.

    "It was cheaper to (plead guilty) than fight it in court," he said. "My attorney felt it would be better to do that."

    Edwards is dismayed that public records still contain information about his conviction. He said the records were supposed to be sealed because they were part of his divorce.

    "If that's released then somebody there did something wrong," he said.

  2. CanuckinNapa
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    CanuckinNapa - June 18, 2013 7:07 am
    Karma...all I can say is Karma...
  3. papertiger
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    papertiger - June 18, 2013 1:52 pm
    Say it aint so
  4. jcwineguy
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    jcwineguy - June 18, 2013 4:01 pm
    "Dufrane" Compliance Trust? They should have seen that coming. Bet they find him in Zihuatanejo
  5. Dnfromnapa
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    Dnfromnapa - June 18, 2013 6:46 pm
    In my opinion, they will find him in Mexico in a condo that was recently purchased. Another couple from Napa recently purchased a condo in Mexico and were surprised to see him and his partner there.
  6. glenroy
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    glenroy - June 19, 2013 7:29 am
    Doesn't look too upset in his mug shot...maybe he's use to all that atttention.
  7. C-Groom
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    C-Groom - June 19, 2013 3:25 pm
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.
  8. Valley_Girl
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    Valley_Girl - June 24, 2013 4:22 pm
    my thoughts exactly!!
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