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July 25, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Esquin wine thieves sentenced

Two men who pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $650,000 in wine from a warehouse last Thanksgiving have been sentenced to prison.

Samuel  Harris, 35, who orchestrated the theft and attempted arson, was given a nine-year sentence by King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector, who said he put the community at risk.  Harris had  pleaded guilty earlier this month to attempted first-degree arson, second-degree burglary and 10 counts of first-degree theft.

His partner-in-crime,  Luke Thesing, 36, received a five-year sentence after he pleaded to second-degree burglary and nine counts of first-degree theft.

Prosecutors say the two men entered Esquin Wine & Spirits on Fourth Avenue in Seattle, disabled motion sensors and spray-painted surveillance cameras before making off with more than 200 cases of high-end wine, with an estimated value of $648,000.

Before they left, Harris cut gas lines and tampered with a pilot light, which fire officials said could have caused an explosion in the retail building.

The theft was discovered the next day when someone smelled gas in the building, police said.

The pair missed one surveillance camera, allowing Esquin employees to identify Harris, who previously had rented a wine-storage locker, according to charging documents.

Thesing was arrested after police found among Harris’ possessions a receipt from Lowe’s, which had surveillance video showing the two men together, according to the documents.

Detectives also found a journal in which Harris outlined “The Plan” to rip off Esquin, and charging papers say both Harris and Thesing planned to flee the country after selling the stolen wine.

Much of the stolen wine was recovered on Dec. 11 in a temperature-controlled storage facility less than a mile from Esquin’s Sodo facility.

Harris was charged with an additional count of theft after police investigating the Esquin theft connected him to a separate incident, in which he stole $250,000 worth of wine from a Belltown woman, charging documents show.

Comments | Topics: Esquin, fine wine, Thanksgiving Day

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