French Laundry Burglar Gets 15 Months in Prison

outside French Laundry
Outside The French Laundry. Photo by Deborah Jones

One of the gang that drained some of California’s top restaurants and wine merchants of almost $900,000 of fine Bordeaux and Burgundies was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $600,000 in restitution on Tuesday.

Davis Kiryakov, 45, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in December and forfeited $80,450 in January, for helping to steal hundreds of bottles of rare wines — including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Screaming Eagle Cabernet — in a series of burglaries. Their most notorious heist happened over Christmas in 2014 at the Michelin three-star restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, when it was closed for renovations. They made off with 110 bottles worth more than $500,000.

Prosecutors sought up to 30 months in prison for Kiryakoz, of Modesto, but U.S. District Judge Beth Freeman instead took the federal probation department’s recommendation of 15 months, his defense attorney told Wine Enthusiast.

Kiryakoz also admitted stealing 142 bottles, worth $290,000 from upmarket San Francisco retailer, Fine Wines International and another 29 bottles worth $32,000 from the cellars at Alexander Steakhouse in Cupertino in a series of early morning burglaries that took place between March 2013 and January 2015.

Judge Freeman also ordered Kiryakoz to repay his victims $585,000, which prosecutors said was the value of the stolen wines offset by insurance coverage.

Kiryakoz and his co-defendants did not receive all the money they had negotiated for the sale of The French Laundry wines. The buyer in North Carolina found out they had been stolen and refused to pay, court papers show. Instead, the buyer arranged to have the bottles, still unopened, handed over to law enforcement to be returned to the famed restaurant.

Kiryakoz will also serve three years probation. Charges against his co-defendant, Alfred Georgis of Mountain View, are pending; he is expected in court in May.

Published on March 29, 2017
Topics: Crime News
About the Author
Leslie Gevirtz
Contributing Editor, Business

An award-winning journalist, Gevirtz spent more than 20 years covering disasters—natural, political, and financial—before becoming Reuters’ wine correspondent; a beat that guaranteed her colleagues were always glad to see her.

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