Berkeley Wine Shop Owner Bilked Customers Out of $45 Million

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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say the owner of a bankrupt Berkeley wine shop has admitted to bilking people out of at least $45 million in a two decades long scheme.

KCBS reports ( 66-year-old John Fox, the owner of the now-closed Premier Cru retailer of rare and expensive wines, admitted that starting in 1994 he purchased false inventories of wine for customers that they never received.

The embezzled funds went to pay a home mortgage, expensive cars, credit card bills, golf club memberships, his daughter’s college tuition and “more than $900,000 on women I met online,” Fox said in a statement to the court.

Under the plea bargain, prosecutors and Fox’s lawyers will both recommend a sentence of six and one-half years in federal prison, plus restitution of at least $45 million to customers and at least $6.5 million to creditors, the station reported.

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