Col­lec­tor sues for $1.7M

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Kirk Mitchell

A Den­ver wine col­lec­tor who once ran the na­tion’s fourth-largest health-main­te­nance or­ga­ni­za­tion has sued an in­sur­ance com­pany for fail­ing to cover his losses af­ter a Cal­i­for­nia wine ven­dor took his $1.7 mil­lion pay­ment and in­stead of us­ing it to buy wine, spent the money to hire fe­male es­corts, buy lux­ury cars and pay his daugh­ter’s col­lege tu­ition.

The law­suit was filed Mon­day by Den­ver at­tor­ney Glenn Mer­rick in U.S. District Court in Den­ver on be­half of Dr. Ma­lik Hasan and his wife, Seeme, against AIG Prop­erty Ca­su­alty Co. of Pennsylvania.

The Hasans are seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion for the $1.7 mil­lion for wine, at­tor­ney’s fees, court costs and two times the cov­ered ben­e­fit, the law­suit says.

AIG has not replied to a re­quest for com­ment.

Once called the Sam Wal­ton of man­aged health care, Hasan cre­ated Health Sys­tems In­ter­na­tional, an HMO with 5 mil­lion mem­bers in 17 states.

Hasan bought fine wines on con­sign­ment through Pre­mier Cru of Berke­ley, Calif., from winer­ies around the world. He paid AIG $12,000 an­nu­ally for prop­erty in­sur­ance on his col­lec­tion, the law­suit says.

But AIG de­nied the claim be­cause Hasan never ac­tu­ally re­ceived the wine.

Pre­mier Cru was founded by John Fox, who bilked thou­sands of wine cus­tomers out of mil­lions of dol­lars by not fill­ing or­ders for 4,500 clients from around the world, ac­cord­ing to records in U.S. District Court in San Fran­cisco.

On­line and in his store, he sold wine re­ferred to as “pre­ar­rival wine” or “wine fu­tures” by or­der­ing wine from Euro­pean winer­ies and de­liv­er­ing it to clients six months to two years later, the law­suit says. But Fox wrote bo­gus pur­chase or­ders, fal­si­fied the wine com­pany’s books and stopped fill­ing most of the or­ders in 2010, the law­suit says.

Hasan al­ways bought cases of wine from Fox on con­sign­ment, his law­suit says, and although de­liv­er­ies were de­layed, they al­ways oc­curred.

Fox faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sen­tenced Dec. 14, ac­cord­ing to court records.

When Hasan learned that Pre­mier Cru de­clared bank­ruptcy, he hired an at­tor­ney and fought to get his 2,448 bot­tles of wine. At the time, Pre­mier Cru had an in­ven­tory of about 78,809 bot­tles of fine wine.

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