Poconos Coal

Police: Winery owners unlawfully recorded customers, employees

Owner says it was to prevent theft.

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - State police and Monroe County detectives raided Mountain View Vineyards in Hamilton and Jackson Townships Wednesday morning, along with the owners' home.

"We executed three search warrants," said Detective Kim Lippincott with the Monroe County District Attorney's Office.

Lippincott says the investigation started last month when former and current winery employees came forward with suspicions that the owners were recording them unknowingly.

"They had been confronted about certain things that they would only know by the recordings," said Lippincott.

During the search, Lippincott says investigators found cameras mounted in the tasting room, barrel room and outside on the winery's decks with no signs indicating video or audio was being recorded.

She says they also searched owner Randy Rice's cell phone and found more than 1,000 clips of surveillance video capturing private conversations between employees and customers.

Rice and his wife, Linda, were arrested.

"It's that surreptitious recording that is illegal and can't be done," said Lippincott.

Randy and Linda Rice were arraigned on felony charges Wednesday afternoon.

When leaving the courtroom, Linda Rice called the incident a big misunderstanding, explaining the cameras were installed to make sure employees weren't stealing.

"We did not know that we needed to put up a sign, we thought that was alright, to make sure people weren't stealing alcohol," said Rice.

But Lippincott calls the cameras a breach of privacy.

She's asking anyone who visited Mountain View Vineyards this month and is concerned about a conversation possibly being recorded to contact her via email at klippincott@monroecountypa.gov

 Linda and Randy Rice were each released on $5,000 unsecured bail.

They're due back in court for a preliminary hearing on February 2.

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