Monroe County winery owners facing illegal wiretapping charges
HAMILTON TWP., MONROE COUNTY (WOLF) -- A Monroe County couple were booked on illegal wiretapping charges tonight.
They’re accused of recording video and audio of customers and employees at their vineyard in Hamilton Township without their knowledge.
“It is so not what you think, so when you find out what it is, you guys are so going to regret this. We will do our own press release.”
58-year-old Linda Rice was led into a magistrate in cuffs in East Stroudsburg today right after her husband, 59-year-old Randy Rice.
The two were arrested and charged with felony wiretapping this morning after police raided Mountain View Vineyard in Hamilton Township.
“I don’t know what’s going on. We haven’t even been over there to eat dinner yet,” Wayne Huffman, of Hamilton Twp., said.
The couple opened the winery last May and told police they installed the cameras to make sure their employees were not stealing from them.
But police say only two employees knew they were being recorded while others suspected they were but didn’t know for sure.
Police also say the Rices didn’t have signs posted which is against the law.
“We own an alcohol establishment, and we thought that was our right to make sure that no one was stealing alcohol,” Linda Rice said.
In addition to the winery, investigators also searched the couple’s home and a distillery they own in Jackson Township.
Eight surveillance cameras were found, four of those able to record video and audio and found in various places around the winery including the tasting room, upper deck, and barrel room.
Police also say they found hundreds of clips of employee and customer conversations on Randy Rice’s cell phone.
The couple was released today on $5,000 unsecured bail. They’re due back in court early next month.
Linda Rice of Mountain View Vineyard Winery Distillery and Brewery released an official public statement on January 20, 2018
“Randy and I both are lifelong residents of Monroe County, graduating from Stroudsburg High School. Randy and I have been faithful, caring and supportive members of the business community here in Monroe County for more than 10 years. We care about our employees, customers and our community,” said Linda Rice, of Mountain View Vineyard Winery Distillery and Brewery
“We are surprised by the recent course of events. And we want you to know we are resilient and stepping through this experience knowing we have the strong support of our loving family, friends and community. We want you to know that we are open and we will continue to be generous sponsors of community events, charities and those in need,” said Rice.
“After I left my job in pharmaceuticals and Randy left his teaching job, it took about six years before we had enough grapes growing to start our business. But when we opened our doors back in 2009, we were so inspired by the support and kindness shown by the Monroe County community. We would like to thank all of the people who continue to support us. We look forward to a long lasting, thriving business here in our home county of Monroe,” said Rice.
“It’s been a wonderful labor of love and we truly appreciate all of our loyal customers who continue to make this such an amazing journey,” said Rice