Man Allegedly Steals Nearly $3M in Wine: DA

A man faces charges in connection with allegedly stealing wine and reselling it at auction

By Jason Kandel
|  Friday, Oct 5, 2012  |  Updated 12:37 PM PDT
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A Newport Beach man faces charges in connection with allegedly stealing $2.7 million worth of wine from his clients’ storage lockers, prosecutors said on Friday.

George Osumi, 64, a construction business owner, faces felony charges, including second degree commercial burglary, grand theft, embezzlement, and receiving stolen property, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

He's being held in jail on $4 million bail.

Osumi is accused of breaking into private wine storage lockers at Legend Cellars, Inc. in Irvine, stealing other people’s wine, auctioning it off, depositing the money into his bank account, and replacing the wine he took with a cheaper brand, prosecutors said.

The wine he’s accused of stealing had an estimated value of $2.7 million, officials said.

At least once he hired a friend to auction off some of the stolen wine in exchange for a portion of the proceeds, prosecutors said, adding the man did not know the wine was stolen.

He also deposited about $280,000 into his business account and used the money to pay for personal expenses and legal fees, officials alleged.

Osumi is accused of auctioning some of the stolen wine himself for nearly $311,000 at least twice and having the money deposited into his business account, the District Attorney’s Office said.

A family member of one of the clients reported the theft to the Irvine Police Department, which launched an investigation.

If convicted, Osumi faces up to 16 years and four months in state prison, prosecutors said.

In a separate case, Osumi faces insurance fraud charges in connection with a $3.5 million claim in payroll for workers' compensation insurance, the District Attorney's Office said.

Anyone who believes their wine is being stored at Legend Cellars is encouraged to contact Irvine Police Detective Detective Sarah Tunnicliffe at (949) 724-7170 by Nov. 30, 2012, to reclaim possession of their wine.

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