Update on Safe Harbor

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Tom Maskell
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Update on Safe Harbor

#1 Post by Tom Maskell » December 20th, 2018, 11:48 am

I was just sent this by someone who stored wine at Safe Harbor:

William "Billy" Holder was indicted yesterday in U.S. District Court, District of Maryland, on 5 counts of wire fraud and 5 counts of interstate transportation of stolen property. There is currently an warrant for his arrest. They expect to have him in custody shortly.

Tom

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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#2 Post by Randy Bowman » May 14th, 2019, 7:26 pm

A Maryland man who owned a storage and transportation business for upscale wines admitted Tuesday to stealing customers’ wines, and selling them to retailers and brokers in Napa and elsewhere, court documents show.

William Lamont Holder, 54, pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge for stealing between $550,000 and $1.5 million of wine from customers of his Maryland-based business, Safe Harbour Wine Storage, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday in a press release. An indictment filed in December accused him of obtaining at least $2.3 million as a result of the scheme.

The indictment singles 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 mentions 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.

Safe Harbour Wine Storage primarily dealt with private collectors and commercial establishments, according to the indictment. 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’s customers did not know that he was offering their wine for sale to wine retailers and brokers nationwide, and sending 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.

Holder agreed to be sentenced to 18 months in prison, if the U.S. District Court of Maryland accepts his plea, according to the press release. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has slated his sentencing for July 31.
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Arv R
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#3 Post by Arv R » May 14th, 2019, 10:31 pm

That seems like a low amount of time to serve given the reported dollar value of theft.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#4 Post by David Glasser » May 15th, 2019, 4:25 am

This made the evening news in Baltimore last night.

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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#5 Post by CJ Beazley » May 15th, 2019, 4:29 am

Arv R wrote:
May 14th, 2019, 10:31 pm
That seems like a low amount of time to serve given the reported dollar value of theft.
Very low, did he roll over on someone to get this deal?
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#6 Post by Victor Hong » May 15th, 2019, 5:08 am

The biggest fencing agents may still be under investigation.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#7 Post by J a y H a c k » May 15th, 2019, 11:57 am

I think the federal sentencing guidelines on this has a sentence of 41-51 months. 6 points starting level for a theft offense and 16 points enhancement because of dollar amount, and assuming no enhancement for prior convictions.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#8 Post by Russell A » May 16th, 2019, 4:34 am

CJ Beazley wrote:
May 15th, 2019, 4:29 am
Arv R wrote:
May 14th, 2019, 10:31 pm
That seems like a low amount of time to serve given the reported dollar value of theft.
Very low, did he roll over on someone to get this deal?
The true dollar amount is much, much higher. Bill was smart with leaving no paper trail other then the wired money from California. The problem lies in there is no way of proving who's bottle of wine is who's when it comes down to it. Like if I had 6 bottles of 75 Petrus and you had 4 of the same, Bill sold them to 2 or 3 different people. There is no way to tell your bottle from mine, so basically they have no true evidence when it comes down to it. He was breaking everyone's pallets up and selling them in different batches. Now I still don't understand how he could not be charged with theft in the case of every client though, but this all comes back to proving your bottle to my bottle. It definitely makes me madder then hell that he is only going to spend 18 months in a cushy prison that I still have to help pay for.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#9 Post by Curt Wood » May 16th, 2019, 9:44 am

This was the lead story on the local news last night. For some reason, when signing his confession he crossed out "William" and signed it using "Billy" for his first name. The judge released him until he is sentenced and gave him permission to leave the state of MD. He requested this, claiming that he now worked as a "Lyft" driver. The TV people checked with Lyft and they had no knowledge of him working for them.

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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#10 Post by Victor Hong » May 16th, 2019, 10:10 am

Lyft, in some foreign country without an extradition treaty. I suspect that Holder will Lyft himself there soon.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#11 Post by Todd Laubach » May 16th, 2019, 12:07 pm

Russell A wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 4:34 am
CJ Beazley wrote:
May 15th, 2019, 4:29 am
Arv R wrote:
May 14th, 2019, 10:31 pm
That seems like a low amount of time to serve given the reported dollar value of theft.
Very low, did he roll over on someone to get this deal?
The true dollar amount is much, much higher. Bill was smart with leaving no paper trail other then the wired money from California. The problem lies in there is no way of proving who's bottle of wine is who's when it comes down to it. Like if I had 6 bottles of 75 Petrus and you had 4 of the same, Bill sold them to 2 or 3 different people. There is no way to tell your bottle from mine, so basically they have no true evidence when it comes down to it. He was breaking everyone's pallets up and selling them in different batches. Now I still don't understand how he could not be charged with theft in the case of every client though, but this all comes back to proving your bottle to my bottle. It definitely makes me madder then hell that he is only going to spend 18 months in a cushy prison that I still have to help pay for.
As I told my brother - Bill was so "f*cking dumb when it came to technology that he was smart". I agree that 18 months is too light but given the circumstances, at least he has to "pay" for his crime.

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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#12 Post by Victor Hong » May 16th, 2019, 12:26 pm

Can I get a job that pays so well?
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#13 Post by Russell A » May 17th, 2019, 4:50 am

Victor Hong wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 12:26 pm
Can I get a job that pays so well?
I know right.. Apparently it pays to be a criminal
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#14 Post by cjsavino » May 17th, 2019, 6:51 pm

Chris
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#15 Post by Arv R » May 18th, 2019, 8:57 am

The other element of this that is disturbing - I don't think he should have been released pre trial/sentencing. There's plenty to suggest that he kept on stealing even while being investigated/sued etc.

Part of locking predators up is not just for punishment/rehabilitative reasons, but simply to stop the ongoing mayhem they cause. This seemed like a case where that was needed.

Pretty disappointing all around and I'm sorry for fellow enthusiasts losses.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#16 Post by Brian Tuite » May 18th, 2019, 10:12 am

Russell A wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 4:50 am
Victor Hong wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 12:26 pm
Can I get a job that pays so well?
I know right.. Apparently it pays to be a criminal
Maryland... Mark Anderson got 27 years for his shenanigans in Mare Island although it was considerably more wine.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#17 Post by Don Cornwell » May 19th, 2019, 5:05 am

The monetary loss caused by Mr. Holder was $2.33 million according to the indictment.

The DOJ press release says Holder is getting an 18 month sentence but that doesn't make a lot of sense given the sentencing guidelines (referenced in Jay Hack's post above), or after looking at the records for other similar cases (see below). It does in fact make me wonder whether there is some other plea deal between Holder and the DOJ that hasn't been announced. I had reported to the FBI back in 2016 that a person well known to the FBI as a fence for stolen wines was allegedly buying stolen wines from a wine storage facility in Maryland.

Unfortunately, alleged theft by wine storage operations has happened a lot more often than most wine collectors might think.

In February of 2012 Mark Anderson of Sausalito Cellars in Vallejo, CA pled guilty in Federal District Court in Sacramento to 19 felony counts, including embezzlement, mail fraud, tax evasion and arson. He sold several million dollars’ worth of customer wines that were in his storage facility and then burned the storage facility containing 4.5 million bottles of wine in order to cover his embezzlement. He was ordered to pay $70.3 million in criminal restitution and was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment.

In August of 2013, George Osumi of Legend Cellars in Newport Beach California pled guilty in Federal District Court in Orange County to 71 counts including grand theft, insurance fraud, identity theft and perjury. He stole $2.7 million worth of customer wines in his wine storage facility, and in many cases substituted inexpensive bottles for the bottle taken. He was sentenced to six years in prison plus ordered to make criminal restitution of the $2.7 million.

In August of 2016, Marc Lazar of Domaine Wine Storage (St. Louis, Washington DC, New York, Napa, Chicago) was sued in Montgomery County Pennsylvania by Great Northern Insurance Company who had paid out $1.97 million to a client of Lazar’s named Reid Buerger. Buerger claimed that Lazar had either converted or failed to account for more than 1,300 bottles of wine that Lazar had purchased for Buerger and his wife (through Lazar's company Cellar Advisors) which was then stored at the Domaine St. Louis and Domaine New York storage facilities. In 2014 Buerger terminated the relationships with Lazar and his entities and after receiving the wines discovered that he was allegedly missing 1,300 bottles. After Buerger's insurance company paid out $1.97 million on the loss, they sued Marc Lazar, Cellar Advisors, Domaine St. Louis and Domaine New York in state court in Montgomery County Pennsylvania (where Buerger lives.) Meanwhile, Lazar tendered that lawsuit to his insurance carriers and his insurers all denied coverage and filed lawsuits in Federal Court in St. Louis seeking a declaratory relief that there was no coverage under the insurance policies. The lawsuit in Pennsylvania was stayed (Lazar and his entities claimed the Pennsylvania forum was not convenient or appropriate). All of the litigation was thereafter conducted in the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis.

Lazar and his companies eventually moved to dismiss all of the claims brought by Great Northern Insurance. On January 23, 2019 the Federal Court issued an order, which, with the exception of one claim for gross negligence (which Missouri law does not recognize) denied Lazar's motion to dismiss the claims by Great Northern Insurance. The case was sent to mediation and the case settled in April 2019. I do not know any of the details at this point, but it seems likely that Mr. Lazar and his companies paid off the alleged $2 million loss -- either directly or with the benefit of some insurance proceeds.

There is yet another bizarre case involving alleged theft by a wine storage company. A New York wine collector named Michael Moriarty filed suit against Chelsea Wine & Storage, Inc. in New York in December 2018. Moriarty stored wines with Chelsea since 2006 and for many years Chelsea apparently automatically charged Moriarty's credit card on a monthly basis for his storage charges. Chelsea stopped charging the credit card in September 2017, apparently because the credit card number on file had expired. In June of 2018 Chelsea sent a notice to Moriarty by mail and email telling him that if he didn't pay $6,300 worth of accrued storage charges within 10 days his wines would be disposed of by Chelsea. On July 30, 2018 they sent another letter telling Moriarty the contents of his wine locker were being destroyed allegedly pursuant to the terms of his contract. Moriarity alleges that he had 1200 bottles in storage with Chelsea which had a market value of between $100,000 and $200,000.

In late October of 2018 Moriarty attempted to obtain the delivery of all of his wine which Chelsea refused. Moriarty then discovered that many of his bottles that had been in storage were for sale in the Chelsea wine store. Moriarty demanded that Chelsea cease and desist and return the remaining wines and when Chelsea refused, he filed a lawsuit in New York State Court. On May 1, 2019 the Court issued a written decision granting a preliminary injunction against Chelsea. As the Court stated: "neither agreement allows Defendant to 'dispose' of Plaintiffs Wine to itself and then sell the Wine at Defendant's second location without accounting to Plaintiff and remitting to Plaintiff any amounts obtained by such sale in excess of the amounts owed by Plaintiff to Defendant for unpaid fees. Accordingly, the court finds that, upon a review of the proofs before it, Plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of the Complaint." You can find a complete copy of the Court's decision here: https://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/o ... 215-u.html
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#18 Post by Gary York » May 19th, 2019, 5:51 am

Sentence seems light. I guess those involved in it are not into wine.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#19 Post by Victor Hong » May 19th, 2019, 6:23 am

Mike Moriarty is a very nice guy and did not deserve such treatment.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#20 Post by Jim Brennan » May 19th, 2019, 6:24 am

As threads on this forum attest, plenty of people think crimes against people of means are a lesser offense.

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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#21 Post by Gary York » May 19th, 2019, 6:30 am

Yes, and kind of sad. I guess it comes with the territory.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#22 Post by John S » May 19th, 2019, 7:33 am

Sad to hear about the Mike Moriarty story at Chelsea. Met him a few times and a nice guy. Seems like no possible good ending here.

I met George Osumi 25 years ago when far as I knew he was just a wine collector like me. What a scum bag he ended up really being.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#23 Post by Victor Hong » May 19th, 2019, 6:23 pm

If the wine at Chelsea Wine were covered with third-party insurance, a theft claim seems appropriate.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#24 Post by A Laubach » May 29th, 2019, 1:59 pm

Curt Wood wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 9:44 am
The judge released him until he is sentenced and gave him permission to leave the state of MD. He requested this, claiming that he now worked as a "Lyft" driver. The TV people checked with Lyft and they had no knowledge of him working for them.

Cheers,
Curt
[head-bang.gif]

You think someone would have checked that before giving him permission to leave the state.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#25 Post by Anton D » May 29th, 2019, 7:09 pm

In local news, a 19 year old black male robbed a 7-11 and made off with 97 dollars. He will spend 16 years in prison.

Talk about different hourly rates!
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#26 Post by todd d » May 29th, 2019, 8:34 pm

I suppose you are just stirring the pot, but a robbery is completely different set of facts and statutes. Different victim impact, different potential for collateral damage. Your 19 year old defendant (who, with that sentence, probably has some criminal history) will likely serve less than eight of the 16 years in the state system. The subject of the original post (no criminal history) will do about 15 months in federal custody, plus have to deal with restitution and probably 3 three years minimum of probation post release. And, as mentioned above, he likely cooperated with investigators and accepted responsibility rather quickly to get such a departure from the sentencing guidelines. I'm sure the investigators and the AUSA were not thrilled with the sentence.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#27 Post by John Me » July 31st, 2019, 1:10 pm

Hello,
Can anyone provide a point of contact to get more information on this issue? Having used this person for storage (and finding out about this problem now), I would like to know if any wine, such as my own, was recovered, etc.
Thank you.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#28 Post by Don Cornwell » July 31st, 2019, 2:32 pm

John Me wrote:
July 31st, 2019, 1:10 pm
Hello,
Can anyone provide a point of contact to get more information on this issue? Having used this person for storage (and finding out about this problem now), I would like to know if any wine, such as my own, was recovered, etc.
Thank you.
The Assistant US Attorney in Baltimore who is in charge of the case is Martin Joseph Clarke. His address and contact information is as follows:

Office of the United States Attorney
36 S Charles St Fourth Fl
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 209-4800
Fax: 14109623124
Email: marty.clarke@usdoj.gov

The final sentencing was to take place today and the final restitution order is supposed to be entered today. There is no information on the PACER system about the sentence imposed (it was supposed to be 18 months according to the plea agreement) and the only document presently listed there is apparently under seal. As I suspected previously, and reported above, there is a whole confidential portion of the plea agreement which has been filed under seal and cannot be viewed by the public. I suspect that Mr. Holder is supposed to testify against someone else who was involved in stealing and fencing the wines.

On July 29, 2019 Asst US Attorney Clarke sent correspondence to the Court which stated that the government would be filing today (July 31) an unredacted spreadsheet listing all victims and the restitution amounts. The letter also discusses that the while the claims filed with the government indicate a little more than $2.0 million in losses, the plea agreement provides for a maximum of $1.5 million in restitution. Any victims whose losses were covered by insurance are subordinated in recovering until the uninsured victims are repaid. There was no indication in the correspondence that any type of restitution has been made or that any stolen wine has been recovered.

Since you don't already have the US Attorney's contact information, I suspect that you might not have filed a restitution claim with the government? If you haven't filed a claim, it is possible that it is too late to do so now. But you will want to check with the US Attorney's office using the information provided to learn more. I hope this helps.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#29 Post by Arv R » July 31st, 2019, 4:24 pm

What is the practical likelihood of actually getting restitution for victims? My layperson's impression was that typically these kinds of criminals had usually hidden their proceeds well, if they were inclined to save anything at all, rather than just blowing it all on gambling or whatever expensive vices they had. (exempting red wine from the list of vices!!)
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#30 Post by Don Cornwell » August 1st, 2019, 2:03 am

Arv R wrote:
July 31st, 2019, 4:24 pm
What is the practical likelihood of actually getting restitution for victims? My layperson's impression was that typically these kinds of criminals had usually hidden their proceeds well, if they were inclined to save anything at all, rather than just blowing it all on gambling or whatever expensive vices they had. (exempting red wine from the list of vices!!)
Arv:

For my part, I don't really know the answer as I don't handle criminal cases (though I do refer matters to the FBI and sometimes work with them.) I suspect a lot depends on the wealth and assets of the defendant at the time of arrest. It probably also depends on whether there was an asset forfeiture order in the particular case. (There was one in the case of Rudy Kurniawan).
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#31 Post by Curt Wood » August 1st, 2019, 4:15 am

Heard he got 19 months in prison along with 3 (?) years supervised probation. He was also ordered to make restitution.

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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#32 Post by Russell A » August 1st, 2019, 7:16 pm

Curt Wood wrote:
August 1st, 2019, 4:15 am
Heard he got 19 months in prison along with 3 (?) years supervised probation. He was also ordered to make restitution.
He got 18 months with 3 years probation, but does not have to show up for the sentence until Oct. 14th of this year.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#33 Post by YLee » August 1st, 2019, 7:24 pm

So this guy stole millions of dollars and gets only 1.5 years in jail? Seems way too little.
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Re: Update on Safe Harbor

#34 Post by Randy Bowman » August 1st, 2019, 7:40 pm

YLee wrote:
August 1st, 2019, 7:24 pm
So this guy stole millions of dollars and gets only 1.5 years in jail? Seems way too little.
Not really. He needs to make a lot of money to pay restitution and he can't earn it in prison. Bernie had a lot assets they could seize for restitution so off to prison.
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