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Man accused of stealing $2.7M in wine

George Osumi allegedly swapped cheaper wine with bottles valued at nearly $3 million.

October 04, 2012|By Jill Cowan

A Newport Beach man is facing burglary, grand theft and embezzlement charges after he allegedly stole $2.7 million in wine from his clients' storage lockers at Legend Cellars Inc. in Irvine, an Orange County district attorney's office news release said.

George Osumi, 64, is being held on $4-million bail and is scheduled to appear in court for a continued arraignment Friday morning.

Osumi, who operated the climate-controlled cellars, broke into the private storage lockers of three different clients and swapped out the expensive bottles valued at nearly $3 million, with much cheaper wine, prosecutors say.

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In 2008, Osumi allegedly hired a friend to auction the stolen wine, in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. His friend is not believed to have known that the wine was stolen.

Then, prosecutors say, between July 2011 and June 2012, Osumi directly auctioned more of the stolen wine. Following the wine sales, Osumi allegedly deposited almost $600,000 into a business account.

Osumi is charged with three felony counts of second degree commercial burglary, among others, with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime involving more than $500,000 and property damage of more than $1.3 million, the release said.

If convicted, Osumi could spend up to 16 years in prison.

According to the release, Osumi is also charged with tax and insurance fraud in a separate case.

Anyone who may have stored wine at Legend Cellars, which was operated by Osumi from January 2008 to June 2012, should call Irvine Police Det. Sarah Tunnicliffe at (949) 724-7170 before Nov. 30 to reclaim their wine.

jill.cowan@latimes.com

Twitter: @jillcowan

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