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Wine storage facility owner sent to prison for stealing from customers, selling to a Napa broker
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Wine storage facility owner sent to prison for stealing from customers, selling to a Napa broker

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A Maryland man was sentenced to 1 ½ years in federal prison Wednesday after he admitted to stealing between $550,000 and $1.5 million of wine from customers of his wine storage business.

William Lamont Holder, 54, pleaded guilty in May to a federal wire fraud charge. He admitted to stealing wines from customers of his business, Maryland-based Safe Harbour Wine Storage, and selling them to retailers and brokers in Napa and elsewhere, court documents show.

Safe Harbour was a storage and transportation business for upscale wines that primarily served private collectors and commercial establishments.

Holder was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake to pay $1.5 million in restitution, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland. He will be on supervised release for three years after he finishes his prison sentence.

Holder’s business is not affiliated with Safe Harbor Wine Storage in Napa.

932 stolen bottles in Napa

The indictment singled out four transactions between Holder and at least one unnamed wine broker in Napa, totaling nearly $90,000 for about 932 bottles of wine. It also mentioned a fifth transaction for a Washington, D.C. wine broker who purchased about 92 bottles for $15,000.

All five transactions took place in 2016 and 2017.

The company charged a monthly fee and pick-up charges to transport customers’ wines to a storage facility in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Customers could pay a delivery fee to have their wine sent to them, instead of picking it up at the facility, according to the indictment.

Holder sent potential buyers detailed lists of bottles of wines in his storage, including their vintages and asking prices via email and fax, according to the press release. Holder then boxed and shipped the wines, and buyers would wire the money into his account or send a check, prosecutors said.

Holder schemed to use his customers’ wines from January 2013 to December 2017, according to the press release. An indictment filed in December accused him of obtaining at least $2.3 million as a result of the scheme, though he did not admit to stealing that much.

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Public Safety Reporter

Courtney Teague is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She can be reached at 707-256-2221. You can follow her reporting on Twitter and Facebook, or send her anonymous tip at: tinyurl.com/anonymous-tipbox-courtney.

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