Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. 2,447 Bottles of Wine—and One Potentially Very Happy Hospital

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Wine-corks

August 26, 2015; Philadelphia Inquirer

Since 2,400 bottles of wine were seized from Atty. Arthur Goldman by the state of Pennsylvania more than a year and a half ago, they have been in storage at a Southwest Philadelphia warehouse. Now that the case has concluded, Chester County Hospital would like to take possession of 1400 of them, if you please, to raise money. The wine is estimated to be worth about $150,000.

Goldman was charged with unlawful sales of liquor after undercover officers made buys at his home (we kid you not) and has been admitted into a two-year Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program in lieu of other punishment. But what is to be done now with the wine, which has had its condition monitored to ensure drinkability?

In the end, the state split the difference, incredibly allowing Goldman to take back 1,047 bottles. It was planning on destroying the remainder, but as Attorney Dawson R. Muth of West Chester says, what a waste! Muth has petitioned the court for the wine on behalf of the hospital. Why, you ask? Sections 6-602 and 6-603 of the liquor code, which weirdly provides that a court may order condemned liquor, alcohol, or malt or brewed beverages to be delivered to a hospital for its use. “Given the value and usefulness of any forfeited bottles of wine in this matter, the destruction of this evidence is against public policy,” he wrote.

Who knew about that law? We learn something new every day, although it may be of limited use.—Ruth McCambridge