Wine theft sus­pect leaps to death from 33rd floor

Man had been ex­pected in court at time he died

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Kevin Mc­Coy

NEW YORK – A for­mer as­sis­tant to Gold­man Sachs CEO David Solomon ap­par­ently com­mit­ted sui­cide Tues­day, dy­ing around the time he was ex­pected to plead guilty to charges of steal­ing $1.2 mil­lion of pricey wine from his ex-boss.

Nico­las De-Meyer jumped to his death from a win­dow on the 33rd floor of the Car­lyle Ho­tel in Man­hat­tan, at ap­prox­i­mately 2:38 p.m., the New York Po­lice De­part­ment said.

He died af­ter send­ing text mes­sages to his sis­ter that “in­di­cated he wanted to com­mit sui­cide,” the NYPD said early Wed­nes­day.

The wor­ried sis­ter, whom po­lice de­clined to iden­tify, phoned man­agers at the ho­tel on East 76th Street and asked them to check on her brother.

Ho­tel se­cu­rity of­fi­cials got into DeMeyer’s room and saw him sit­ting on a win­dow ledge. He pushed him­self off the ledge be­fore the of­fi­cials could stop him from jump­ing, po­lice said.

De-Meyer landed on a 15th-floor bal­cony, and was pro­nounced dead at the scene, po­lice said.

He had been sched­uled to ap­pear in Man­hat­tan fed­eral court for a 2:30 p.m. hear­ing in the wine theft case.

The Man­hat­tan U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice on Tues­day flagged the hear­ing to me­dia re­porters as a pro­ceed­ing of in­ter­est, a des­ig­na­tion that often sig­nals a de­fen­dant is ex­pected to en­ter a guilty plea. U.S. District Judge Paul Garde­phe sched­uled the hear­ing af­ter post­pon­ing a session in Au­gust so fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors and De-Meyer’s law- yer, Sab­rina Shroff, could dis­cuss a po­ten­tial plea deal, court records show.

Shroff is a fed­eral de­fender who was as­signed to rep­re­sent De-Meyer be­cause he could not af­ford to hire an at­tor­ney, court records show.

The U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vice had been pay­ing for De-Meyer’s trips to court hear­ings in New York from a fam­ily home in Ohio be­cause he was also un­able to pay those costs, the court records showed.

De-Meyer, 41, was charged in Jan­uary with in­ter­state trans­porta­tion of stolen prop­erty for tak­ing hun­dreds of bot­tles from Solomon, who was then co-pres­i­dent of Gold­man Sachs, and sell­ing them to a North Carolina-based wine dealer.

The New York-based in­vest­ment bank said the theft was dis­cov­ered in fall 2016 and re­ported to law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties.

De-Meyer’s job re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­cluded re­ceiv­ing wine de­liv­er­ies at Solomon’s Man­hat­tan apart­ment and trans­port­ing them to the wine cel­lar in his boss’ East Hamp­ton va­ca­tion home on Long Is­land’s East End, the in­dict­ment al­leged.

A noted wine col­lec­tor who was named Mr. Gourmet 2010 by the So­ci­ety of Bac­chus Amer­ica, Solomon had an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of fine wine.

Among the hun­dreds of bot­tles pros­e­cu­tors say De-Meyer stole over about two years un­til Oc­to­ber 2016: seven bot­tles of Bur­gundy from the French es­tate Do­maine de la Ro­manée-Conti, which Solomon had pur­chased for $133,650 and are “widely con­sid­ered among the best, most ex­pen­sive and rarest wines in the world,” the in­dict­ment al­leged.

The news of his for­mer as­sis­tant’s death “sad­dened” him, Solomon told the New York Post. “We are all heart­bro­ken,” he said.

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