RICHMOND – A former Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) employee charged with computer trespass and embezzling the authority’s inventory list has pled guilty.
Edgar Smith Garcia, 28, of Manassas, pled guilty today to Hanover County Circuit Court Judge John Overton Harris for felony computer trespass. He was sentenced to two years in prison, which were suspended for five years on the condition of good behavior. Additionally, Garcia must pay a $600 fine and is banned from all Virginia ABC property. Three other charges for embezzlement, conspiracy to embezzle and conspiracy computer trespass were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
Garcia was a lead sales associate from Feb. 14, 2020, through March 25, 2022. He was found to be passing internal agency information to Robert William Adams, 45, of Newport News. Adams, who also has been charged with computer trespass and embezzlement, was allegedly selling that information to buyers he contacted through online bourbon hunting groups. Adams is scheduled to appear in Hanover County Circuit Court on Dec. 12.
Earlier this year, ABC conducted an extensive internal review of its limited availability products distribution following complaints of unfair sales activity, as well as the authority’s own observations of potential violations of alcohol beverage laws occurring. Consequently, ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement initiated a criminal investigation in partnership with other enforcement entities.
During the investigation, ABC worked with the Virginia State Police Criminal Investigation Division (CID), which assisted with serving search warrants and analyzing electronic evidence seized. Evidence uncovered during the investigation led to the charges against Garcia and Adams.
“We identified a case where an employee worked with an outside individual in violation of ABC policy and Virginia law in the use of inventory information,” said Virginia ABC CEO Travis Hill. “We are pleased with today’s outcome in Hanover Circuit Court and confident that new distribution methods put in place in April with lessons learned by this incident ensure an equitable environment for customers.”
Following the review of how these products are sold, ABC adjusted its distribution methods to not only provide all customers with the greatest opportunity to purchase these limited-availability liquors, but also close avenues that could provide possibilities for exploitation. The new random distribution process for limited availability products has been in place since April 20.