Malvern lawyer charged with illegal wine sales

Arthur David Goldman , 49, charged with selling wine.
Arthur David Goldman , 49, charged with selling wine.
Posted: January 15, 2014

MALVERN A lawyer with an office on the Main Line has been charged with selling high-end wines without a liquor license, offering buyers their choice of varieties from a 97-page bottle list, according to the Chester County district attorney.

Arthur David Goldman, a 49-year-old lawyer from Malvern with a solo practice in Paoli, stored wine valued at more than $150,000 in floor-to-ceiling racks in his basement and could face nearly $200,000 in fines imposed for each ounce of alcohol seized, officials said.

"This was not some casual exchange of wine between friends," Chester County First District Attorney Michael Noone said in a news release. "The defendant was running a highly organized, high-volume illegal business operation to make money."

Goldman, reached at his office Monday, declined to comment and directed all questions to his attorney, Peter Kratsa, who said in an e-mail that Goldman was "appropriately contrite." Kratsa said he disagreed with many of Noone's assertions but did not elaborate.

According to an affidavit released by prosecutors, Goldman told officers that he had been selling wine illegally for more than 10 years but made a minimal amount from each purchase.

The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement received a tip about Goldman's operation in March 2013, officials said. An undercover state police officer then e-mailed Goldman, to which he responded, "How do I know you aren't an agent" for the Liquor Control Board, according to the news release.

Once satisfied with the officer's answer, Goldman allegedly e-mailed a 97-page list of available bottles.

The officer later purchased three bottles of 2011 Sonoma Coast chardonnay and three bottles of 2011 Hirsch Vineyard pinot noir for a total of $351, picking up the wine at Goldman's Tulip Drive home, according to the affidavit.

Over the ensuing months, officers purchased wine from Goldman's home and office several times, and received e-mails the lawyer sent to buyers announcing new wines he was offering, according to the affidavit.

"Get ready, I have a shipment of almost 50 cases of wine coming, over $4,000 in shipping charges, and nearly one ton of wine arriving next week," Goldman allegedly wrote in one e-mail.

Most of the wines Goldman was selling are not available in Pennsylvania, officials said. While he had many varieties on hand, Goldman was also able to order specific wines for customers, according to the release.

Under state law, consumers cannot have wine sent to their homes in Pennsylvania but can have wine ordered from licensed direct shippers sent to a state liquor store. According to the affidavit, one box of wine purchased by the police showed that it had been shipped to Goldman at an address on White Horse Road in Voorhees.

Out-of-state wineries registered with the State of New Jersey can ship wine to residents there.

During a Jan. 6 search of Goldman's home, officers emptied his wine racks, seizing 2,426 bottles valued between $150,000 and $200,000, officials said.

Goldman, who according to his website has more than 20 years of legal experience and practices mostly in employment law, is facing misdemeanors of illegal liquor sales, illegal purchase of alcohol, and illegal possession or transportation of alcohol.

610-313-8205 @TriciaNadolny

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