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Koch vs Royal Wine Merchant- Daniel Oliveros & Jeff Sokolin

Koch vs Royal Wine Merchant- Daniel Oliveros & Jeff Sokolin

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Published by: maureen_downey on Nov 10, 2011
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UNITED
STATES
DISTRICT
COTJRT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT
OF
FLOzuDA
CASE NO:
WILIAM
I. KOCH,
an
individual,
Plaintiff,
vs.
ROYAL WINE
MERCHANTS,
LTD., aNewYork
corporation;
DANIEL
OLIVEROS,
an
individual;
and
JEFF
SOKOLIN,
an
individual,
Defendants.
COMPLAINTPlaintiff
William
I.
Koch("Koch"
or"Plaintiff'),
on
personal
knowledge
as
to
himself,and
oninformation
and
belief
as
to
defendants
Royal Wine
Merchants,
Ltd.
("Royal"),
Daniel
Oliveros
("Oliveros"),
and
Jeff
Sokolin
("Sokolin")
(collectively,
"Defendants")
as
and
for
his
Complaint
alleges:
PRELIMINARY
STATEMENT
1.
Rare
bottles
of
wine
command
prices
in
the thousands
of
dollars,
creating strong
incentives
to
counterfeit
them.
This
has
drawn
sophisticated
wine counterfeitersto
the
rare
wine
market.
For
years,
these
counterfeiters have
duped
wine
collectors
worldwide
into
paying
millions
of
dollars
for
near
worthless bottles ofwine.
2.
Winecounterfeiters employ
a
varietyof techniques.
One technique is to obtain
an
authentic
empty
wine
bottle,
fill
it
with
inauthentic
wine,
affix
a
counterfeit
label
thatmisrepresents
the
nature, vintage, and
age
of
the
wine
inside,and
seal
it
with
an
old
cork.
A
counterfeit
bottle
of
highquality
can
often
fool
even
meticulous
collectors.
It
isnot
uncommon
STEARNS
WEAVER
MILLER
WEISSLER
ALHADEFF
&
SITT¡RsoN,
p.n.
Museum Tower
.
150
West
Flogler
Street
.
Suite
2200
.
Miomi,
FL
33130
.
305-789-3200
Case 9:11-cv-81197-DTKH Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/27/2011 Page 1 of 48
 
for
wine
to
go
bad
from
legitimate
causes
such
as
poor
storage
conditions.
Therefore,
if
a
bottle
does
not
taste
right,
collectorsoften
view
it
simply
as
bad
luck.
NotuntilPlaintiffs
recent
investigation
has
the
problem
of
Royal's
counterfeitwine
become
knownto
Plaintiff.
3.
Royal,Oliveros,
and
Sokolin
havebeen
instrumentalin importing,promoting,
and
'
selling counterfeit
rare
wine
to
the
American
market.
Koch's investigation
has
recently
revealed
that
from
at
least
1998
to
2008,
Defendants
knowingly
purchasedhundreds
of
bottles
of
counterfeit
wine
and
injectedthem
into
the marketplace.
If
real,the
hundreds
of
counterfeit
bottles
Defendants
injected
into
the marketplace
would
have
been
worth
morethan
eight
million
dollars.
4.
Defendant
Royal Wine
Merchants
is
a
corporationorganized
inNewYork
St¿te
that
operatesa
retail
wine
store
in
NewYork
City.
At
least
as
recently
as
May
201I,
Royal'swebsite
claimed
it
had
"been
drinking
and
selling
thegreat
wines
of
the
worldfor
twenty
years,"
and that its
cellar
was"filled withthe
greatestproducers
on
earth."
(http://www.royalwinemerchants.com/index2.htm,
last
checked
May
17,20rr).
5.
Defendants
Oliveros
and
Sokolin
are,and havebeen
at
all
timesrelevant
to
this
Complaint,the
principals
of Royal.
The
New
York
Department
of
State
website
indicatesthat
Sokolin
is
the
Principal
Executive
Officer
and
Chief
Executive
Offrcer
of Royal.
Koch
alleges
on
information
and
belief
that Oliverosis
or
has
otherwiseheld
himself
out
to
be
a
principal
of
Royal.
Furthermore,
Oliverosis
and
hasbeen
at
all
times relevant
to
this
Complaintthe
chief
sales
manager
of
Royal.
On
information
and
belief,
at
aIltimes
relevant
to
this
Complaint,Defendants
Oliveros
and
Sokolin were
each
andboth
responsible
for
Royal's
day
to
dayoperations.
-2-
STEARNS
WEAVER
MILLER
WEISSLER
ALHADEFF
&
SITT¡RsoN,
p.¡..
Museum Tower
'
I50
west
Flogler
street
.
suite
2200
.
Miomi,
FL
33130-3os-7ïg-3200
Case 9:11-cv-81197-DTKH Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/27/2011 Page 2 of 48
 
6.
In
the fine wine
community,
Defendants
Sokolinand
Oliverosareand
were
known
as
the
"sexy
boys."
They often
described
the
winestheysold
as"sexy
juice."
Defendants
Sokolin
and
Oliveroslivedalavishlifestyle,
stayingat
ltxury
hotels
and
throwing
extravagant
parties.
They
had
a
reputation
for
acquiring,promoting,
and
sellingextremely
rare
and
valuable
vintages
of
fine
wine.
As
described
in
the
online
magazine
Slate:
what
really
set
thesexy
boys
apart
was
their
seeminglylimitlessstock
of
legendary
old
wines,many
of
them
in
supersize
bottles-
quantities
and
formats
thatno
one
else
could
get
their
hands
on.
They
bombarded
clients
with
faxes
touting
their
latest
finds:
multiplebottles
of
196l
Latour
à
Pomerol
("Kinky
Juice!,'),magnums
of
1945
Mouton
Rothschild
("our
latestsexy
purchðe"),
a
double
magnum
of
1949
Cheval Blanc
("Perfectcondition.
Better
than
l947lll
Trust
me!!!").
It
seemed
too
good
to
be
true.
Apparently,
it
was.
Mike
Steinberger,
what's
in
the
Bottle?,
SLnre,
June
14,2010,
available
at
http
/ /
www
slate.
c
oml
dl
22
5
67
7
5
.
7.
In
the
1990s,Defendants
Sokolin
and
Oliveros
met
and
befriended
HardyRodenstock,
a
well-known
German
wine
counterfeiterwho
has
for
decadesbeen
involved
in
the
tasting
and
promotion
of
rare vintages
of
wine.
Since
the
mid
1980s,
Rodenstock
hascreated,
or
directedothers
to
create, numerous
bottles
of
counterfeit
winethat
he
claims
to
have
"discovered"
in
exotic locations
or
to
haveacquired
from
personshe
will
not
reveal.
Since
1998,
Rodenstockhas
introduced
well
over
two
thousand
bottles
of
counterfeitrare
wine
into
the
United
St¿tes
market.
8.
Records
of
a
wine importing,
distributing,
and
brokering
companylocated
inNew
York
and
of
a
thirdparfy
custombroker
and freight
forwarder
located
in
New
Jersey
(collectively,
"import
records"),revealthat
from
at least
1998
to
2008,
Defendants
served
as
the
primary
importer
of
Rodenstock's
counterfeitwine
to
the
United States.
Theimport
records
revealthat
virtuallyall
the
wine
Defendants
imported
from
Rodenstock
purportedto
come
from
-3
-
STEARNS
WEAVER
MILLER
WEISSLER
ALHADEFF
&. SITTERSON.
P.N.
Museum
Tower
.l50west
FloglerStreer
.
suite
2200
-
Miomi,
FL
33130
-
3os-7ïg-3200
Case 9:11-cv-81197-DTKH Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/27/2011 Page 3 of 48

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