Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Bootlegger" charges dropped: Will the $2.25 Million Bond to be returned?

Jacksonville, FL - May 15, 2014   

According to court documents the State of Florida has officially declined prosecution of Liquor Group and Happy Vodka founder C.J. Eiras, following his arrest in August 2012.  Eiras was initially charged with 69 felony counts related to bootlegging alcohol and avoiding the taxes on the alcohol by the Alcohol Beverage & Tobacco (ABT) Division of the State of Florida.  Eiras was set with a $2.25Million Dollar bond and faced more than 100 years jail time for those charges.  Just hours after the arrest, Eiras was bonded out of jail and the State records show that there was never any court hearings held in the case after this bonded release. 

The Division Chief of the State Attorney Office Special Prosecution Division Mr. Dan Skinner handled the case from inception due to the largess of the charges and the magnitude of the bond requested by the State.  The final Statement filed by Skinner with the Court notes: "After reviewing the evidence in the above styled case, the undersigned Assistant State Attorney declines to prosecute this defendant (Eiras) for these charges, and any civil charges..."  This seems to put to rest the claims that Eiras was a "bootlegger" and operating a business avoiding taxes on alcohol.

Eiras, a successful philanthropist and well know figure in the alcohol industry made a company statement that he is "pleased that the State Attorney office took the time to carefully review the evidence and facts to determine that there was no wrong doing on my part."   Eiras has been in the news over the years as a speaker for the World Trade Association and the NASDAQ VICEX Fund, and it will be of interest to see if this development will signal a new era of communication with Regulators and the alcohol industry as a whole.  

Attorney Mitch Stone whom represented Eiras in this case held a press conference to exonerate Eiras and to clear the air on the charges that are now dismissed. 

This sort of case begs the question of proper regulation of the beverage industry.