Businessman pleads guilty to stealing up to $1.5M in wine

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to embezzling up to $1.5 million in upscale wine from customers who paid him to store the bottles, which he sold without their knowledge.

A plea agreement calls for 54-year-old William Lamont Holder, of Hanover, to be sentenced to 18 months in prison for his guilty plea Tuesday to a wire fraud charge. A federal judge must decide whether to accept the agreement's terms.

Holder owned Safe Harbour Wine Storage LLC. A court filing says private collectors and businesses paid him a monthly fee to store their inventory in a climate-controlled warehouse.

Prosecutors say Holder's customers lost between $550,000 and $1.5 million worth of wine that he sold to wine retailers and brokers without their consent.

Holder is scheduled to be sentenced July 31.