Sam's Wine investigation

Yikes! I was wondering what was happening in this case. Sam's seems to be operating as normal, but there might be a monster sale sometime. I really doubt they would get their license revoked, but one never knows.

Chicago Tribune | Sam's officials, state set to meet:
Sam's Wine & Spirits officials were to finally sit down with state liquor regulators Friday to talk about settling 15 counts of liquor law violations, including extortion, that were filed in December.

The Lincoln Park retailer, which is one of the nation's largest liquor store chains, had resisted meeting with officials of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, prompting regulators to continue gathering evidence of alleged wrongdoing, said William O'Donaghue, chief legal counsel for the commission.

Sam's owner Fred Rosen and O'Donaghue confirmed Thursday that a preliminary meeting was set for Friday to seek a settlement of the charges. If talks fail, and the case goes to a hearing before the commission, regulators say they would seek to revoke Sam's liquor license.

...The state charged Sam's with setting up an illegal marketing company to extort money from liquor distributors that wanted to sell their products at the store. The company also was charged with operating an unlicensed and illegal offsite warehouse, selling to other retail stores, using its size to unfairly demand exclusive prices and failing to pay distributors on time.

The citations were welcomed quietly by liquor distributors. ...

the Tribune writes, without sourcing.

Liquor industry officials in Chicago, especially those in the wine trade, have been watching the case closely for months, especially since the Rosens made public comments dismissing the allegations as frivolous. Because of its size, Sam's wields tremendous influence in the liquor business.

Since December, Liquor Control Commission investigators have been collecting information, including years of records from liquor distributors that sell wine, spirits and beer to Sam's, according to a source familiar with the distributors' cooperation in the case.

“The investigation hasn't stopped. It keeps going, and everything that comes in just makes our case stronger,” O'Donaghue said.

Sam's must decide whether to settle the case or hold out for a hearing on the charges, which could be risky for the company.

“If it goes to a hearing, the penalty I will be seeking is revocation” of the liquor license, O'Donaghue said.

Shortly after charging Sam's, the liquor commission cited nine liquor distributors, including heavyweights Judge & Dolph, Union Beverage and Southern Wine & Spirits, saying they complied with Sam's alleged illegal practices.

update 5-16-06: settled today

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on April 29, 2005 2:42 PM.

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