Feds grill ex-workers from NYC wine shop Sherry-Lehmann

The feds may be close to putting a cork in their year-long probe of iconic wine shop Sherry-Lehmann — and potentially bringing charges against its former owners for allegedly scamming customers out of their vintage bottles, The Post has learned.

Agents from the FBI and the US Postal Inspection Service interviewed several former employees over the past few weeks ahead of a grand jury hearing that was scheduled for last Thursday, ex-workers with direct knowledge of the investigation told the Post.

Those interviewed were asked about the company’s alleged practice of offering wines for sale that the shop didn’t have in stock and would not be able to acquire, one person with knowledge of the agents’ questions told The Post.

FBI and other law enforcement agents raided the store and took out dozens of boxes last year. James Keivom

Prosecutors first empaneled the grand jury last June after customers claimed they were bilked out of pricey wine they paid for but never received, as well as wine they stored with the venerable purveyor’s storage unit — Wine Caves — that seemingly disappeared.

Sherry-Lehmann co-owner Shyda Gilmer has been accused in lawsuits by the company’s landlord, vendors and customers of breach of contract, contempt of court and fraud, according to court documents.

The feds have also been looking into the role played by Kris Green, a former hedge fund executive who took an undisclosed stake in the company in 2013, sources told The Post.

The grand jury, which can serve for more than a year, has yet to hand up any charges.

“It appears to be a very active investigation that may be drawing to a conclusion, said attorney Sheldon Gopstein, who represents clients who are suing the retailer over hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of wine futures they purchased and never received.

Richard Schoenstein, an attorney with Tarter Krinsky & Drogin who is not involved in the case, added, “it’s not uncommon for a federal  grand jury proceeding to be over an extended period of time including a year or more.”

“An investigation like this is very complex, involves a lot of people and reams of documents,” Schoenstein added.

Gilmer and Green did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Sherry-Lehmann co-owners Kris Green and Shyda Gilmer could face federal charges. Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Gotham Magazine

Federal prosecutors, the FBI and USPIS did not comment.

Sherry-Lehmann closed its Park Avenue doors in March 2023 after the State Liquor Association found that it was doing business with an expired license. It never reopened. 

Towards the end of its 88-year run, Sherry-Lehmann stocked its shelves — when it had access to merchandise from vendors — with largely inexpensive wines — a far cry from the rare Bordeauxs that drew a celebrity clientele.

Shortly after shuttering, the store was raided by FBI agents who hauled out several boxes, as The Post exclusively reported.

Agents also descended on an office complex in Pearl River, NY where the iconic wine company held rare vintages for its wealthy clients who paid monthly fees to keep their collections safe at a storage facility called Wine Caves. 

Sherry-Lehmann was once the most prominent wine store in the US before being shut down last year. Robert Miller

Former employees and industry experts remain mystified by what happened to Wine Caves, which moved from a warehouse in 2022 in Jamaica, Queens, to an office complex called Blue Hill Plaza that is owned by Sherry-Lehmann’s former landlord in Manhattan, Hong Kong-based Glorious Sun Group.

“The biggest mystery of all is Wine Caves,” said a former Sherry-Lehmann executive. “That’s where all the expensive wines are…and no one seems to be talking about that.” 

The FBI previously interviewed customers of Wine Caves, some of whom who have reached out to The Post in a desperate attempt to learn what happened to their collections after their calls and emails to Sherry-Lehmann went unanswered.

One oenophile kept two cases of 1982 Petrus Bordeaux — which he bought four decades ago from the retailer and believes are now valued at around $90,000.

He has no idea where the rare bottles are being stored, if at all.

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