SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) – The operator of a California business where the public can store wine bottles has been charged with stealing nearly $3 million in vintage wines from clients’ lockers.
George Osumi, 64, of Newport Beach was charged with burglary, grand theft and other counts, and could face more than 16 years in prison if convicted, the district attorney’s office said.
Osumi’s arraignment in Orange County Superior Court was postponed from Friday until Nov. 2.
He is being held on $4 million bail, said attorney James Riddet, who represents Osumi in a separate tax and insurance fraud case. Riddet declined to comment on the latest charges.
Prosecutors said Osumi – who operated Legend Cellars in Irvine between 2008 and 2012 – entered the private storage lockers of three different clients and took bottles of wine totaling $2.7 million in value and replaced them with cheaper brands.
Osumi then hired a friend to auction off some of the stolen wine and sold some of it himself, prosecutors said.
No one at Legend Cellars – which bills itself as Orange County’s premier wine storage facility – answered the phone on Friday.
Authorities were tipped off to the case by a relative of one of the clients.