AG, Revenue Offices File Suit Over Illegal Wine Shipments
The Office of the Attorney General and the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Division of the Department of Revenue filed a complaint last month against four wine companies after finding that the companies were illegally shipping wine into the state, including to underage Mississippians and dry counties.
In Mississippi, alcohol shipments to an individual or business are illegal if the purchase is not made directly through the ABC. The complaint, which was filed in Rankin County
Chancery Court, seeks injunctive relief against the following wine merchants: Wine Express, Inc. of Mt. Kisco, New York; The California Wine Club, of Ventura, California; Gold Medal Wine Club of Santa Barbara, California; and Bottle Deals Inc. of Syosset, New York.
During the course of the investigation by the AGO and DOR, agents attempted to make online purchases of wine from 63 vendors. Of those vendors, 22 of them (35%) sold and subsequently shipped products into Mississippi. The primary concern of those purchases were the ones made in the name of an underage person or delivered to a home without an individual over the age of 21 being there at the time of delivery.
Further, purchases were made and delivered to locations within dry counties; areas where the people chose to not allow the sale or possession of alcoholic beverages in their community. There are currently 36 counties dry for alcoholic beverages with an additional 4 counties which have one of their two districts being dry.
In addition to these concerns, there is a revenue loss to the state of approximately $6 lost on every $25 bottle of wine. This revenue, if collected, would be used to fund services for the benefit of all citizens of Mississippi. If the injunction is granted, the companies would be required to train and educate their employees on liquor shipment laws in Mississippi and would also be required to place disclaimers in any advertisements placed in Mississippi to clarify such shipments are not available in the state.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Division and Attorney General’s Office are continuing this investigation, which will include a review of the records of the commercial shipping companies who delivered alcohol in this state. Additional suits may be filed for the deliveries that took place outside Rankin County.