John Fox, a lanky 66-year-old with fading red hair, used to meet scantily-dressed 20-year-olds at least two or three times a week at Artís Coffee on Berkeley's Fourth Street.
For his combined crimes, John Fox probably faces a maximum of six and a half years in prison and is on the hook to pay $45 million in restitution.
John E. Fox could face as much as 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for defrauding his clients over a period of six years.
The owner of Premier Cru purchased much of his fine wine on the gray market.
The bankruptcy trustee liquidating the wine store Premier Cru has reached a settlement to pay disgruntled customers pennies on the dollar for the wine they purchased but never received.
An analysis of the books of the Berkeley wine retailer shows that it collected $45M in wine orders but had no bottles associated with those orders in its warehouse.
The Berkeley wine company John Fox co-founded with Hector Ortega is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.
John Fox, the embattled co-owner of Premier Cru, faced some of his long-time customers at a creditors' hearing in Oakland.
For 35 years, Premier Cru, a retail store on University Avenue, was a place to which wine lovers turned to find Bordeaux and Burgundy at a discount. Advertising its wares as 10% to 15% lower than other high-end wine stores, Premier Cru drew customers from around the globe
The FBI is investigating claims of a Ponzi scheme involving the Berkeley wine company Premier Cru.
As the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case of the Berkeley wine store winds its way through court, significant details emerge about its operations.
The wine company claims it has more than $70 million in debts but only $7 million in assets, most of it wine, and leaves nearly 1,000 customers in the lurch.
PREMIER CRU SHUTS ITS DOORS Premier Cru, the subject of numerous lawsuits over the alleged non-delivery of wine, has shut the doors of its retail store at 1011 University Ave. “We have transitioned to ONLINE SALES only,” reads a sign on the front door. “We apologize for the inconvenience.” The sign says to email email@example.com to schedule a time to pick up past orders. The closure is only the latest blow for the high-end wine business owned by Fox Ortega Enterprises, a corporation formed by John Fox and a partner. Premier Cru moved its operations from Emeryville to Berkeley in 2011 and opened a 29,000-square foot, state-of-the-art wine shop designed by architect David Trachtenberg. Premier Cru sold wine through the store, but conducted much of its business through online sales. There are currently $130,000 in unpaid taxes on the building and it has been listed for sale. Gordon Commercial is offering the property, made up of three parcels and three buildings, for $6.8 million (down from $7.5 million). In late October, Berkeleyside reported that seven people had filed numerous lawsuits claiming they were owed more than $3 million. The plaintiffs all said that they had purchased wine from Premier Cru that had never been delivered. Since then, numerous disgruntled customers have come forward and contacted Berkeleyside and other news outlets to report similar issues. Others have filed additional lawsuits. Premier Cru’s owner, Fox, did not respond to a request for a comment. Some unhappy customers have been given refunds. Andrew Matarese, a 25-year-old wine aficionado from New Jersey, received a $12,000 refund from Premier Cru shortly after Berkeleyside ran its article. However, other customers have been repeatedly promised refunds but have received nothing. (more…)