Former Virginia ABC employee pleads guilty in liquor leak case

A liquor store in downtown Richmond
A liquor store in downtown Richmond(Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 3:54 PM EDT
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A former Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority employee pleaded guilty to a felony computer trespassing charge after he was implicated in an unusual scheme to sell agency inventory data to buyers looking for early intel on which stores would have hard-to-find bottles of bourbon, ABC officials announced Monday.

Edgar Smith Garcia, 28, of Manassas, received a suspended sentence of two years in prison after entering the guilty plea in Hanover County Circuit Court. The two-year sentence was suspended for five years, meaning Garcia, who worked for ABC as a lead sales associate from early 2020 until March, can avoid prison time for good behavior. He is also banned from ABC property and has to pay a $600 fine.

Three other embezzlement and conspiracy charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

The alleged scheme came to light after numerous bourbon collectors raised concerns that some buyers seemed to have a heads up about which stores would be selling rare bottles that aren’t normally available at the state’s government-run liquor stores.

That trend frustrated many collectors, who felt they weren’t getting a fair shot because bottles were selling out suspiciously fast. In bourbon collecting groups that organize largely on Facebook, it was an open secret that one particular user was offering inside ABC information for sale.