Petros Winery Makes Boise Barristers And Bankers Blush

by Don Harkins

In 1991, owner/operator of Petros Winery Petro (Pete) Eliopulos introduced two "litigation aged" wines: Petros Boise Bankers Blush and Boise Barristers Blush. The bottled wine was aged for two years at the expense of West One bank while Eliopulos was forced to litigate what turned out to be frivolous charges made against him.

"These wines are dedicated to a few select bankers and barristers of Boise who tried to take me on. Those really swell guys know who they are--and blush they should," said Eliopulos with a satisfied smile on his face.

The Bankers and Barristers Blush wines are delivered with the subpoena "Maccum Drinccum" which demands of the recipient to assess the wine's character. Eliopulos described the wine's character to be exactly like those to whom it is dedicated.

"The wine lacks backbone; it is limp, deceptive and has hints of cowardice and wimpiness; undertones of deceit arc across the palette and pucker the senses," a humorously snobbish-sounding Eliopulos explained.

From 1986 until 1990 Eliopulos was forced to defend himself and his winery against a federal investigation because of a falsified "report of an apparent crime" which was filed by West One Bank's directors and attorneys. The bank-initiated federal investigation included the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), the FBI and the IRS. The bank-initiated federal investigation was apparently undertaken to force Eliopulos to drop the charges of racketeering and fraud he was pursuing against West One Bancorp, its directors, officers and attorneys (see October, 1996 edition of The Oregon Observer).

The investigation of Eliopulos, however, exposed some less than ethical practices of bank Chairman Harry Knox and his sister Vice-Chairperson Ann Neavill. Knox and Neavill were summarily indicted and convicted of 36 counts of embezzlement and bank fraud and sent to federal penitentiaries as restitution for their crimes.

The charges against Eliopulos were eventually determined to be without merit and dropped soon after Knox and Neavill were convicted. Eliopulos then successfully filed suit against the attorneys who had represented the bank and its officers while they forced him to litigate frivolous charges.

Eliopulos was awarded a $1 million jury verdict against the directors and officers of the bank for illegal conversion in 1990. For four years Eliopulos endured tremendous pressures from the bank and its attorneys. According to Eliopulos, the tactics employed by the bank's attorneys were designed to break him mentally and economically.

"The bank's attorneys attempted to force me into an involuntary bankruptcy for the illegal purpose of seizing my assets," said Eliopulos. "Four years of defending frivolous charges in court with my livelihood, my property and the lives my wife and children hanging in the balance was stressful beyond anything I have ever experienced in my life," Eliopulos said.

Eliopulos, 50, a former All American linebacker at Fresno State University explained, "To relieve some of the pressure and stress of litigation, I got into the habit of lifting weights in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep."

Lifting weights in the middle of the night not only helped Eliopulos deal with the stress of the frivolous litigation which was nothing more than a calculated attempt to destroy his winery, his family name and steal his assets in the process, it helped him to evolve the extremely humorous bankers and barristers blush plan.

"I vowed to turn this litigation against me around and, when it was all over, I would dedicate a wine to the bankers and attorneys who tried, unsuccessfully, to ruin me," Eliopulos said with that peculiar smile returning to his face.

"There is no way a person could survive a decade of complex litigation if he couldn't maintain his sense of humor," Eliopulos said. "The Bankers and Barristers Blush wines were my little kiss to the cowards and crooks who purposefully put my family through hell. If they can't take a joke, well..."

"Wouldn't it be great if the Boise Barristers Blush was the featured wine at the Idaho State Bar Association's annual Barrister's Ball?" queried a mischievously grinning Eliopulos.

Petros Bankers Blush and Petros Barristers Blush, complete with subpoenas, are available by special order from the Petros Winery.