A collector convicted of making bogus vintage wine in his California kitchen and selling it for millions of dollars was sentenced Thursday to a decade in prison by a judge who said he wanted to send a message to others who might tamper with what people eat and drink. "The public at large needs to know our food and drinks are safe ... and not some potentially unsafe homemade witch's brew," U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said as he announced the prison term for Rudy Kurniawan.
He also ordered him to forfeit $20 million and pay $28.4 million in restitution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stanley Okula described Kurniawan, 37, as the "kingpin of counterfeiters," a man who turned his Arcadia home into a laboratory where he poured wine into what appeared to be vintage bottles before attaching elegant fake labels and selling them for tens of millions of dollars. Berman concluded that Kurniawan had caused losses close to $30 million, primarily to seven victims, including William Koch, a billionaire yachtsman, entrepreneur and wine investor. Before he was sentenced, Kurniawan twice apologized.