(Photo by Gina Passarella)
A lawyer for a Chester County attorney charged with running a “high-end wine smuggling” operation said he doesn’t think the allegations against his client would implicate the client’s law license.
Chester County labor and employment attorney Arthur D. Goldman was charged in the county late last week with 15 misdemeanor counts related to the unlawful sale, transportation and purchase of liquor or alcohol in violation of Pennsylvania’s Liquor Code, according to the docket and a statement from the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.
The 49-year-old lawyer is alleged to have imported more than 2,000 bottles of high-end wine, made available for sale to a private list of customers.
“This was not some casual exchange of wine between friends,” First Assistant District Attorney Michael Noone said in a statement. “The defendant was running a highly organized, high-volume illegal business operation to make money.”
The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement received a tip that the defendant was selling wine that was unavailable through the state-owned Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit Stores. Acting undercover, the state police contacted Goldman, who allegedly responded, “How do I know you aren’t an agent for the PLCB?”
Goldman eventually provided agents with a 97-page list of wines that were available for sale from his personal wine cellar or that he could order from outside of Pennsylvania. Noone said Goldman had an electronic mailing list of people who he allegedly sold or offered to sell wine.
According to Noone’s statement, the state police purchased an unspecified amount of wine from Goldman’s Malvern, Pa., home. On Jan. 6, the state police served a search warrant on Goldman’s home, seizing 2,426 bottles of high-end wine valued between $150,000 and $200,000, Noone said in the statement. He said Goldman could face a fine of nearly $200,000 and the wine is subject to forfeiture.
Goldman’s attorney, Peter E. Kratsa of MacElree Harvey in West Chester, Pa., said in a statement that he disagrees with Noone on “certain salient points, which points will be resolved by a fact-finder in a courtroom, if necessary.”
“I have found Mr. Goldman to be a very engaging man even during this extremely trying time in his life,” Kratsa said in the statement. “He is an accomplished professional. He is appropriately contrite. To the extent it is procedurally practical, we will continue to cooperate with the investigation.”
According to the docket, Goldman is scheduled for a preliminary hearing before Chester County Magisterial District Judge Thomas W. Tartaglio on Feb. 12.
Kratsa told The Legal on Tuesday he didn’t believe the allegations against Goldman would implicate Goldman’s license to practice law in the state. Kratsa pointed to Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b), which states it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”
“I believe when all the facts come to light, that Arthur’s alleged conduct will not implicate Rule 8.4(b),” Kratsa said.
Kratsa declined to comment, beyond the statement, on the specific facts surrounding the allegations against his client.
Capt. Mark J. Crossan, the director of the Operations Division of the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, said in a statement that his agency “would like to thank the community for their involvement and cooperation with this investigation. The investigation came to light through positive community interaction with bureau personnel. Such interactions help us continue our goal of ridding our communities of criminal activities, regardless of the nature.”
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board did not return a request for comment on the charges.
Goldman was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1989. He has a solo practice in Paoli, Pa., that focuses on employment law in Chester County, commercial transactions, and real estate and contract law in Chester County and the surrounding Philadelphia region.
According to Goldman’s website, he is also part of a consortium of independent employment and real estate law firms in the area that join together on certain matters as part of their association as the Broadview Law Group. Goldman graduated from Harvard in 1986 and from Cornell Law School in 1989.