Hospital claims confiscated wine cache
A Pennsylvania hospital battled state prosecutors in a Harrisburg court last week in an attempt to lay claim to more than 1,400 bottles of confiscated wine. A county judge will determine whether the contraband ends up going down the hatch or down the drain.
Chester County Hospital wants the judge to give it the wine cache seized two years ago during a state police investigation that accused Paoli, Pa., lawyer Arthur Goldman of skirting Pennsylvania’s liquor laws by selling wine from his home.
Goldman struck a deal Aug. 18 with the state attorney general’s office that allowed him to keep 1,047 of the 2,500 confiscated bottles. Two days later, the not-for-profit West Chester hospital asked the court for possession of the remaining bottles, citing a 1935 provision of the State Liquor Code that permits judges to give seized booze to a hospital “for its use.”
The hospital would likely auction the bottles as a fundraiser, according to court records.
A prosecutor for the state attorney general’s office disputed the hospital’s lawyer’s claims that state liquor laws would allow the institution to sell the wine. In a brief filed Sept. 1, Deputy Attorney General Danielle Graham said “use” in that case could only mean medicinal use, a throwback to a time when alcohol was employed as a medical treatment.
The top lawyer for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board warned state prosecutors that destroying the wine would be pointless and wasteful, and she urged officials to let the hospital have it. “Ultimately, the needless destruction of this wine will not serve any meaningful purpose,” the Liquor Control Board’s chief counsel, Faith Smith Diehl, wrote last year to Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
The attorney general’s office stated that Chester County Hospital waited too long to involve itself in the matter. Prosecutors also worried that it would set a bad precedent.
The hospital’s lawyer, Dawson Muth, did not return several messages from the Associated Press seeking comment.
Pennsylvania’s attorney general says the hospital is late to the party in making its claim.