and then there’s this
John Fox, 66, admitted masterminding a “massive scheme to defraud” through his store Premier Cru — taking millions from vino lovers around the world without acquiring the wine first, according to a statement Thursday from the Department of Justice. Under a plea agreement, Fox is facing 6 ½ years in federal prison.
Fox falsified purchase orders for about $20 million of wine that he never bought, and then sold that “phantom wine” to unsuspecting customers, the statement said.
In the plea deal, the Concord, Calif., resident admitted he embezzled money from the business. He spent nearly $1 million on women he met online, and also used funds to pay off personal credit cards, buy golf club memberships and purchase or lease luxury cars such as Ferraris, Corvettes, a Maserati and “various Mercedes-Benzes,” the statement said.
Fox also said he used money from newer customers’ orders to purchase wine promised to earlier customers — an arrangement compared to a Ponzi scheme by Asst. U.S. Atty. Ben Kingsley and Judge James Donato, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.