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Below is a portion of the press release from the New York State Liquor Authority. For the full release and a Q&A, click here.   Pursuant to the Governor’s order, effective Monday, March 16, 2020 at 8:00PM, all licensed on-premises establishments (e.g. restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs, arenas, catering establishments, etc.) must cease on-premises sales of alcoholic beverages and/or food.  Additionally, all licensed manufacturers with on-premises privileges must also cease on-premises sales of alcoholic beverages and/or food; however, a licensed manufacturer may continue all manufacturing operations.  This restriction shall continue until April 15, 2020 but may be extended or reduced depending upon the circumstances. To aid in prevention of the spread of the coronavirus and assist businesses impacted by the current state of emergency, the Governor has ordered the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to promulgate guidance on new off-premises privileges for licensed businesses with on-premises privileges. The State Liquor Authority offers the following guidance: Any on-premises licensee and any manufacturing licensee with on-premises retail privileges may sell for off-premises consumption any alcoholic beverages that it is able to sell for on premises consumption under the law. For example, a tavern wine licensee may sell beer, wine, cider, mead, and wine product, but not liquor, and a farm winery may sell any New York State labeled wine, beer, cider, mead, or liquor, but not non-New York State products unless it has an on-premises license as well. Alcoholic beverage sold for off-premises consumption pursuant to this guidance may be sold in any closed…

A complaint was filed September 20, 2016, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York involving two of the larger wine and spirit distributors in New York and Maryland. The Plaintiff, Empire Merchants LLC (“Empire”), part of the Charmer Sunbelt group, is suing its Maryland distributorship, Reliable Churchill LLLP, as well as, Breakthru Beverage’s co-chairman Charles Merinoff and President & CEO, Gregory L. Baird, and multiple retailers in New York and Maryland. Empire alleges through its complaint that from 2009 to 2016, the Defendants collectively conspired to smuggle wine and spirits, worth millions of dollars, into New York to avoid New York’s high excise taxes and circumvent Empire’s distribution rights within New York. According to Empire, the Maryland-based wholesaler delivered millions of dollars of alcohol to Cecil County retailers, who then sold the alcohol to complicit New York retailers, who, in turn, secretly smuggled the alcohol in trucks across state lines to New York. The Maryland wholesalers also obtained substantial indirect financial and reputational benefits by selling millions of dollars worth of extra liquor and wine to consumers in New York. The complaint states: “Specifically, by unlawfully smuggling and selling millions of dollars’ worth of extra liquor and wine to consumers in New York, the Maryland Wholesalers received additional bonuses, and avoided penalties, from certain liquor suppliers in return for far exceeding sales targets in supplier contracts. (These bonuses and corresponding penalties are typically based on the number of liquor cases sold, also referred to as…