Two men were recently indicted on four felony charges of computer trespass and embezzlement in connection to insider knowledge of rare bourbon sales in Virginia.
A recent report by nonprofit Virginia Mercury links at least one former State Liquor Authority employee to reportedly selling data about the location of bourbon drops to interested resellers.
In Virginia, liquor stores are managed by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC). Sales of most limited supply and expensive liquors (often referred to by industry insiders as “unicorns”) are distributed to stores through a randomized system, launched in April, rather than adjusting prices according to supply. The system was developed to level the playing field, rather than have customers line up for hours outside of stores, or otherwise win the bottles in random lotteries.
Virginia Mercury reports that, as ABC employees have access to computer data information about where and when the spirits would be distributed, they had an easy gateway to selling that information to bourbon buyers.
Individual complaints to the ABC, as well as the agency’s notice of changes to the prized inventory, sparked an investigation by the alcohol control authority. Edgar Smith Garcia, 28, and Robert William Adams, 45, were both charged and released on bond.
Assistant prosecutor David Stock tells Virginia Mercury that Garcia, who was identified by the online media organization as a former lead sales associate, was reportedly sharing internal data on the drops. Adams allegedly sold that information to members of online bourbon groups. This information assisted resellers in obtaining rare spirits to flip online at a much higher price.