More than 2,420 bottles of fine wines valued at $150,000 were seized last week from the home of a Chester County attorney who allegedly ran an underground mail order wine network, authorities said.
Arthur Goldman, 49, allegedly has sold rare wines - all unavailable from the state-owned liquor monopoly -from his home in Malvern without a liquor license, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and is also accused of procuring the wine from a source other than a Pennsylvania liquor store.
"This was not some casual exchange of wine between friends," Chester County District First Assistant Attorney Michael Noone said in a statement. "The defendant was running a highly organized, high-volume illegal business operation to make money."
When his home was raided, Goldman said he made a small profit on each purchase and acknowledged he had been doing so for over a decade, according to a statement he made to authorities during the raid.
It was unclear how many people had wine supplied to them by Goldman or whether Goldman had sold wine to anyone outside the PLCB.
In a sting operation that began in March 2013, an undercover agent with the PLCB contacted through email and asked for a list of wines that Goldman had for sale, according to court papers.
Goldman allegedly replied: "How do I know you aren't an agent for the PLCB?"
The agent's response satisfied Goldman, who emailed an 97 page list of wines that he had in his personal wine cellar or could be special ordered through him, according to court papers.
The next month, the PLCB agent wrote a check for $351 for three bottles of a highly rated Chardonnay and three 2011 Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir. The agent sent a colleague to Goldman's home on Tulip Lane to pick up the order. Several days later, the agents delivered a money order $500 to buy another six bottles. The PLCB made several other purchases with cash until the day after Christmas 2013.
On Dec. 26, Goldman allegedly sent out an email saying "Get ready, I have a shipment of almost 50 cases of wine coming, over $4000 in shipping charges, and nearly one ton of wine arriving next week."
The PLCB agent went to Goldman's home on Jan. 5 and picked up five more bottles. The next day, with a search warrant in hand, agents raided Goldman's home, according to court papers.
State police seized 2,426 bottles of wine, a computer, a flash drive and numerous documents. Goldman was charged with selling liquor, transporting liquor and purchasing "liquor or alcohol from another source other than a Pennsylvania liquor store.
Goldman's attorney, Peter E. Kratsa, supplied a statement to Philly.com that read:
"I have read statements attributed to my friend, 1st Asst. DA Mike Noone, and, as is typical, we do disagree on certain salient points, which points will be resolved by a fact-finder in a courtroom, if necessary.
I have found Mr. Goldman to be a very engaging man even during this extremely trying time in his life. He is an accomplished professional. He is appropriately contrite. To the extent it is procedurally practical, we will continue to cooperate with the investigation."