A simple search on Google, Bing, Facebook or Craigslist will bring up lots of results for secondary market sales for any number of hard to find distilled spirits. Pricing will vary from just over market value to well into the four digits for these black market bottles. Playing in this space is a bit like opening up a can of snakes, you just never know what might pop out.
As the price of hard to find bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle, W.L. Weller or Kentucky Owl continues to grow, the market for flippers also continues to grow. Just like distilling at home is illegal, selling or purchasing distilled spirits from anyone without a license is also illegal as these five people recently discovered in Ohio.
In December, agents with the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) teamed up with Ohio Liquor Control (OHLQ) and ended up charging five people with illicit sales in Ohio’s secondary market liquor sales.
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Secondary market liquor sales often take place on web sites, such as Craigslist and Facebook groups and Marketplace. An example of secondary sales is when sellers go to other states, purchase bottles of liquor not found or difficult to find in Ohio and turn around to resell them. In Ohio, consumers may only purchase spirituous liquor from authorized sources such as an OHLQ location, which are private businesses that sell the product on behalf of the state of Ohio or permitted retail establishments, such as bars and restaurants.
Buyer Beware – No Guarantee of What’s in that Bottle of Pappy
“When people purchase bottles on the secondary market, there is no guarantee of the health and safety of the bottle’s contents,” said Captain Gary Allen, commander of OIU. “Ohio has controls in place to ensure the contents inside liquor bottles are genuine and safe when purchased from authorized sources.”
Five Charged with First-degree Misdemeanors
Agents charged four with illegal sale of beer or intoxicating liquor without a permit, a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Robert C. Jaskolka,73, of Brunswick. His case has been presented to Medina Municipal Court.
- Dennis M. Rigney-Carroll, 44, of Upper Arlington. His case has been presented to the Franklin County Municipal Court.
- Brian L. McSwain, 42, of Mason. His case has been presented to the Mason Municipal Court.
- Joshua D. Ulam, 35, of Walton, Kentucky. His case has been presented Warren Municipal Court.
Agents also charged Gerald R. Osborne, 52, of South Point with illegal sale of intoxicating liquor, a first-degree misdemeanor, illegal possession of intoxicating liquor, a first-degree misdemeanor, and illegal transportation of intoxicating liquor, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. His case has been presented to the Lawrence County Municipal Court.
The agency pointed out that none of the cases are connected to each other.
Secondary Sales Hurt Small Businesses
“Secondary sales are a no-win situation. They hurt the small businesses that sell these products legally and put consumers at risk,” OHLQ Superintendent Jim Canepa said. “Consumers are susceptible to both counterfeit or tampered with products. We’re grateful the Ohio Investigative Unit takes these cases seriously to keep our market fair and consumers safe.”
The cases will be forwarded to local municipal courts. If convicted, each person could receive the maximum 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Osborne may also face another maximum 210 days in jail and $1,250 fine.
OIU and OHLQ will continue to investigate secondary market liquor sales. The OIU asks that if you know of anyone selling alcohol illegally to contact them at #677.