Former Vice President of The Wine Tasting Network Indicted for $900,000 Fraud
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal indictment charging Martin Christopher Edwards with twenty-three counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering was unsealed this morning in federal court, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag.
Edwards, 48, of Napa, California, was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 30, 2013. According to the Indictment, Edwards, the former Vice President and General Manager of The Wine Tasting Network (WTN), is alleged to have created a fictitious entity, Dufrane Compliance Trust, that purported to provide tax compliance services to WTN. In his role at WTN, Edwards allegedly created fraudulent invoices and directed WTN to make multiple payments to Dufrane Compliance Trust between May 2010 and approximately October 2012, totaling approximately $900,000. Edwards allegedly deposited these funds into an account he controlled and withdrew them for his own personal use, including the purchase of a BMW.
Edwards failed to appear at his initial appearance this morning in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Therefore, Edwards is currently considered a fugitive. If anyone has information on Edwards’ whereabouts, please call the San Francisco field office of the FBI at (415) 553-7400.
The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 1343, respectively, is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, plus restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957, is 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, plus restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Katherine B. Dowling and Arvon Perteet are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rawaty Yim and Hector Lopez. The prosecution is the result of a two month investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Edwards must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.