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State Continues Crackdown on Illegal Alcohol Shippers

March 16, 2022 - Injunctions and fines have been levied against three out-of-state companies for illegally shipping wine direct to Michigan consumers without a license, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) confirmed today.

Attorney General Dana Nessel sued the companies for violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act and the Twenty-first Amendment Enforcement Act, which authorizes the State Attorney General to bring a civil action against a person engaging in any act in violation of State law regulating the importation and transportation of alcohol.

To date, Nessel's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, working in partnership with the MLCC's Enforcement Division, has secured more than $100,000 in fines against illegal alcohol shippers and currently has 17 other lawsuits filed, with more on the way.  

"The Commission will continue its vigorous enforcement efforts in partnership with Attorney General Nessel's office to ensure fair competition for Michigan businesses and to protect public health and safety," said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi. 

Judges in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan entered consent judgments prohibiting the defendants from illegally selling and shipping intoxicating liquor to consumers in the state of Michigan, as well as payment of fines. The businesses located in California were penalized as follows: Vinoce Vineyards, LLC, $25,000 fine; Beverly Hills Liquor & Wine, $12,500 fine; and Cellar Collections Inc., $10,000 fine. The companies must also prevent their websites from accepting Michigan orders and take steps to inform Michigan consumers that sales promotions do not apply to them.

In addition to being unfair to Michigan  businesses, the effect of unlicensed companies skirting state laws by illegally importing alcohol into Michigan are significant: minors can easily obtain alcoholic liquor, state officials have no effective means to ensure that the imported products are safe; and state-licensed wholesalers and retailers in Michigan are undercut by excessively low prices, resulting in unfair competition. 

The MLCC's Enforcement Division, along with the Attorney General's office, have thwarted hundreds of entities' efforts to violate state liquor license laws. Most shippers stopped their illegal activity after receiving cease and desist letters from Nessel's office or a manufacturer obtained the necessary liquor license from the MLCC. 

The mission of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) is to make alcoholic beverages available for consumption while protecting the consumer and the general public through regulation of those involved in the sale and distribution of these alcohol beverage products.