Virginia ABC Employee Who Allegedly Sold Insider Information on Rare Whiskey Releases Pleads Guilty, Receives Sentence
On Monday, Edgar Smith Garcia, 28, of Manassas, Virginia, pleaded guilty to computer trespass in front of Hanover County Circuit Court Judge John Overton Harris. According to Virginia ABC, he was sentenced to two years in prison and suspended for five years on good behavior.
Garcia must pay a $600 fine and is banned from all Virginia ABC property. Three other charges for embezzlement, conspiracy to embezzle and conspiracy of computer trespass were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
This comes after Garcia allegedly sold Virginia ABC’s inventory list of high-demand and limited-availability bourbons to online bourbon hunting groups. As a former sales associate for Virginia ABC, Garcia had access to this information. However, he is no longer employed by the authority.
In February 2020, the Bureau of Law Enforcement for Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) launched a criminal investigation in partnership with other law enforcement entities. This eventually led to two men being charged with several offenses.
Garcia was a lead sales associate from Feb. 14, 2020, through March 25, 2022. The charges were based on allegations that, as an ABC employee, Garcia had access to an internal list of the agency’s allocated liquor products that were unavailable to the public.
Garcia then provided the information to Robert William Adams, 45, of Newport News, who had a private Facebook page. Adams would release the information to his subscribers, who would pay him $300 each for access.
Spring of 2022 saw the implementation of a new program by the Virginia ABC agency- the “randomized” sale of allocated bourbon and other spirits. This was designed to create a level playing field for all those interested in purchasing these liquors, as stated by Travis Hill, the agency’s CEO at the time.
“We identified a case where an employee worked with an outside individual in violation of ABC policy and Virginia law in the use of inventory information,” Hill told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. We are pleased with today’s outcome in Hanover Circuit Court and confident that new distribution methods in April with lessons learned by this incident ensure an equitable environment for customers.”
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