Federal prosecutors said that Rudy Kurniawan rooked his clients of at least $20 million. They include David Doyle, founder of Quest Software, who says he was cheated of more than $15 million, and William Koch, one of the billionaire Koch brothers, who reportedly lost $2 million.
Kurniawan, a native of Indonesia, had a high reputation in the wine business until his house near Los Angeles was raided. Investigators said they found evidence he was counterfeiting labels and mixing indifferent wines to be sold as rare ones.
"Rudy Kurniawan planned and executed an intricate counterfeit wine scheme," said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for New York's southern district, said after the sentencing. "Now, Kurniawan will trade his life of luxury for time behind bars."
Kurniawan faces deportation once he completes his sentence. He was also ordered to pay $28 million in restitution and to forfeit $20 million in ill-gotten gains.
Defense lawyers argued for a shorter sentence Thursday, saying that prosecutors exaggerated the amount lost by Kurniawan's clients. They also said he was engaged in practices common in the wine business and was singled out because of his nationality.