A former executive of a Napa-based wine company who was accused of embezzling nearly $900,000 has pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco to one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion.
Martin Edwards, 48, of Napa, was formerly vice president of the
WineTasting Network, an online wine marketing company.
He entered the guilty plea on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge
William Alsup and will be sentenced by Alsup on Aug. 5.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Edwards admitted in a written plea
agreement to siphoning off approximately $894,000 from the wine company to a
fictitious entity he called the Dufrane Compliance Trust.
Haag said Edwards admitted that he told wine company employees
that the payments to Dufrane were for tax compliance services, but that he in
fact used the money for personal expenses, including purchase of a BMW car,
vacations, meals and a cruise.
Edwards, who was indicted on May 30, 2103, failed to show up for
his first court appearance on June 17.
apprehended in Puerto Vallarta,
Mexico, and deported to the United States in January, according to the FBI.
The mail fraud conviction carries a possible maximum sentence of
20 years in prison and the tax evasion count has a maximum of five years.
The wine marketing company was bought in January by TSG-The
Synesthesia Group, based in St. Louis.
-- Bay City News