Businessman pleads guilty to stealing up to $1.5M in wine

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BALTIMORE (AP) — A Maryland man pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling up to $1.5 million in upscale wine from customers who paid him to store the bottles, which he sold without their knowledge.

A plea agreement calls for William Lamont Holder, 54, of Hanover, to be sentenced to 18 months in prison for his guilty plea to a wire fraud charge. A federal judge in Baltimore must decide whether to accept the plea deal's terms.

Holder owned and operated Safe Harbour Wine Storage LLC. Private collectors and businesses paid him monthly fees and pick-up charges to store cases of wine in a climate-controlled warehouse in Glen Burnie, a court filing says.

From January 2013 through December 2017, Holder's customers lost between $550,000 and $1.5 million worth of wine that he sold to retailers and brokers without their consent, according to the filing. Holder didn't have a license to sell wine in Maryland.

Holder kept the proceeds from the wine sales and spent all of it on personal expenses, the filing says.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake is scheduled to sentence Holder on July 31.

Holder was indicted on wire fraud charges in December.

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