$2.7m stolen from Calif wine bank
8th October, 2012 by Patrick Schmitt
Almost US$3 million worth of fine wine has been stolen from a Californian storage facility.
George Osumi, 64, ran Legend Cellars in Irvine between Jan 1, 2008 and June 21, 2012
The bottles were taken from Legend Wine Cellars, which is billed as Orange Country’s “premier storage facility”, and the operator George Osumi has been arrested.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Osumi ran Legend Cellars in Irvine between January 2008 and June this year, and systematically removed customers’ bottles before replacing them with cheaper brands.
Osumi and a friend then reputedly auctioned the fine wine, which has been valued at $2.7m, and was stored in temperature controlled lockers.
One Legend Cellars’ customer has had as much as 1,400 bottles taken, and only discovered the theft when he opened a case and found it filled with Two Buck Chuck.
Osumi was charged with theft last week and could face over 16 years in prison if convicted.
He is already being charged in a separate tax and insurance fraud case.
The theft is reminiscent of a fine wine scam at the UK’s Mayfair Cellars, where a member of staff resold customers’ bottles over the course of four years.
In 2006, following the realisation that bottles of Cheval Blanc were missing, it became apparent that as much as £1.25m worth of wine had been taken, forcing the business to close.