When a Chester County attorney entered into a two-year rehabilitative program after being charged with unlawful liquor sales, a misdemeanor, it wrapped up a criminal investigation by state police and liquor control agents.
But the defendant, who police said ran a high-end, sophisticated bootlegging operation, and some of those who have followed the unusual case say it will be a much bigger crime if police destroy the attorney’s rare wine collection, valued at as much as $200,000.
For more than a year, 2,447 bottles of wine have been in police custody while a judge decides if the contraband should be destroyed.
“Everybody feels bad about this collection being destroyed, but he broke a law, and I’m pretty sure he knew he was breaking a law,” said R.J. O’Hara, a Downtown Pittsburgh attorney whose expertise is in liquor law. He said he’s familiar with the case.
It’s not possible for the collection to get special consideration. Police don’t have the wiggle room to say, “We’re going to destroy the moonshine, but not the wine that has a snob appeal,” Mr. O’Hara said.