lawsuits

Omar Khan Has Pleaded Guilty to Identity Theft

Khan, left, with his wife, Leslie. Photo: SHAUN MADER/PatrickMcMullan

Omar Khan, the bon vivant who allegedly swindled fine-wine insiders out of at least $9.5 million, pleaded guilty to identity theft on Thursday, less than one month after the FBI arrested him at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The details of Khan’s plea agreement remain unclear. In addition to identity theft, Khan had faced one count of wire fraud, a charge prosecutors presumably dropped as part of the plea agreement.

A decade ago, Khan earned a reputation among the city’s high-flying oenophiles for organizing extravagant dinners at fine restaurants featuring some of the rarest wines on the planet.

According to the civil suit, Khan solicited investments in these dinners, which could cost attendees anywhere from $500 to $25,000 a plate, and promised to split the profits. But many of the dinners never happened. One investor, Krešimir Penavić, told me he had sunk some $5 million into Khan’s events before he realized he had never seen a dime of profit. Penavić, who made a fortune as a quant at the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, was one of 13 wine aficionados who sued Khan and won an $8 million judgment. In a statement, Penavić said he continues “to pursue assets and leads” related to the judgment. “His sentence should send a message that this abuse of trust will not go unpunished and hopefully deter future malefactors of similar ilk,” Penavić’s attorney, Rob Seiden, wrote in an email.

In an email, Khan’s attorney, Andrew Dalack, said his client “looks forward to putting this chapter of his life behind him.”

Khan was first indicted in February 2020, but those charges remained under seal for years because, at that point, he was living in Sri Lanka. According to prosecutors, the Department of Justice was seeking Khan’s extradition when Sri Lanka expelled him for overstaying his visa earlier this year. Aggravated identity theft is a felony offense that carries a two-year prison sentence. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 10. At a bond hearing scheduled for next week, Khan’s attorneys will ask for their client’s release from detention at a rehabilitation facility in Queens, where he is being treated for neuropathy and fractures in his back.

Omar Khan Has Pleaded Guilty to Identity Theft