Stephen Burton, Facing $100 Million Wine Fraud, Pleads Not Guilty
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Stephen Burton, Facing $100 Million Wine Fraud, Pleads Not Guilty

| December 18, 2023

Stephen Burton, aged 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges involving a fraudulent scheme of nearly $100 million related to non-existent luxury wines. 

He was extradited from Morocco to New York following his arrest in 2022 for using a counterfeit Zimbabwean passport to enter the country.

Federal prosecutors claim that Burton and an associate operated Bordeaux Cellars, a company facilitating loans between investors and wealthy wine collectors. 

Burton entered a plea of not guilty for the 2022 indictment and has been detained until the trial, as per a spokesperson from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Between June 2017 and February 2019, Burton and his co-defendant, James Wellesley, allegedly attempted to secure $99 million from investors. 

They engaged with potential investors at multiple venues, including conferences in the U.S. and abroad.

According to allegations from the prosecutors, they reassured lenders that the loans would be backed by wine held by affluent collectors, promising returns through interest payments.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York stated that Bordeaux Cellars, the company linked to Stephen Burton and James Wellesley, didn’t actually possess the wine they claimed secured the loans.

The charges against Burton and Wellesley include wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. 

If convicted, each defendant could potentially face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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Debkanya Bhattacharya
Debkanya Bhattacharya

Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.


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