BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The owner of a high-end wine storage facility was sentenced to federal prison for embezzling his customers.

William Holder, 54, of Hanover, Maryland, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for stealing between $550,000 and $1.5 million worth of wine from his clients, primarily private collectors and commercial establishments.

According to his plea agreement, Holder was the sole owner and operator of Safe Harbour Wine Storage. Through Safe Harbour, Holder stored and transported upscale wines for private collectors and commercial establishments.

In return for a monthly fee, Holder would arrange for the transportation of a customer’s wine to Safe Harbour’s storage facility in Glen Burnie where it would be inventoried and stored. Holder did not possess a license to sell wine in the State of Maryland.

From January 2013 through December 2017, Holder developed a scheme to obtain payments and wine from the customers of Safe Harbour for his own personal financial gain.

Unbeknown to his customers, Holder offered their wine for sale to wine retailers and brokers around the country, including in Napa, California, all the while continuing to collect the customers’ monthly storage fees and accept additional wine for storage.

Holder told potential third-party buyers that he was the owner of the wine that he was offering to sell. By email, he sent them lists of bottles of wine stored in his warehouse with detailed descriptions of the winery, vintage and asking price.

After the buyers selected the bottles they wanted to purchase, Holder boxed and shipped the wine, and sent his bank account information.

After inspecting the shipment of wine, the buyers would either wire the money directly into Holder’s bank account or send a check. Holder kept the proceeds from the sales and spent it on personal expenses.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and the Anne Arundel County Police Department for their work in this investigation.

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