The man who led a Ponzi scheme that led to the loss of about $45 million by 4,000 wine investors is set to spend more than six years in prison.
John Fox, who ran the wine shop Premier Cru in Berkeley, California, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge James Donato. He has been in custody since August, when he admitted to committing wire fraud.
“I wish I could go back in time and undo the damage that I’ve caused, but I can’t,” told the court in San Francisco, according to a report in the East Bay Times.
Premier Cru sold “wine futures,” which it marketed as discounted sales of expensive vintages to be purchased after grapes were harvested.
However, Fox embezzled at least $5 million from company and related accounts. He then spent the money on sports cars, credit cards, a golf club membership and the like.
He admitted to selling about $20 million of “phantom wine” between 2010 and 2015, according to his plea deal.
Earlier this year, Premier Cru said it owed clients over $70 million but had only $7 million in assets. Fox also field for personal bankruptcy.
Still, he agreed to pay about $45 million in restitution to clients and $6.5 million to lenders, according to court documents obtained by the newspaper. Fox said in court that he plans to study computer science in prison, so he can go into business and finance these payments.