[UPDATED with Son Helps Bust Dad:] George Osumi, Legend Cellars Worker, Accused of Stealing $2.7 mil in Wine from Clients

See the update/*correction at the end of this post disclosing the suspect was an employee of the wine cellar, and his son, who is the owner, helped bust his father.


ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 8, 8:50 A.M.: The owner *An employee of a business that stored fine wines for customers is being arraigned any minute now for allegedly stealing $2.7 million
worth of wine from his clients' storage lockers.

George Osumi II, 64, of
Newport Beach, is accused of poaching expensive wines kept in controlled-temperature storage at Legend Cellars of Irvine and replacing them with cheaper bottles of swill.
]

See also:

Ligia Baciu, Who Stole $236k for Luxury Goods and Domestic Partner's Fertility Treatments, Gets 3 Years and Hefty Fine, Restitution Order

Douglas Nissan Part Owner Frank Ignacio Urbano and 2 Desk Managers Get Jail and Probation in Huge Loan Fraud Case

Shaine Joseph LaVoie, Co-Founder of Ezekiel Clothing Co., Accused of Ripping Off Investors in Phony New Ventures

One theft prompted a family member of a victim to contact the Irvine Police Department, which launched an investigation. Detectives determined that between Jan. 1, 2008, and June 21, 2012, Osumi broke into the
private storage lockers of three different owners, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).

Osumi allegedly hired a friend to auction off some wine in 2008 and split the proceeds, although the OCDA reports the pal had no idea the wine was stolen. Osumi is accused of depositing $280,000 from these sales into his business account and using the money to pay
for personal expenses and legal fees.

Between July 20, 2011, and June 7, 2012, Osumi auctioned stolen wine himself and deposited $310,965 into his business account, charges the OCDA.

Osumi faces three felony counts of second degree
commercial burglary, one felony count each of grand theft, embezzlement
by employee, receiving stolen property, and one misdemeanor count for
possession of burglary tools with sentencing enhancements for aggravated
white collar crime over $500,000, property damage over $1.3 million, and
crime-bail-crime.

Conviction could have him trading a wine cellar for a prison cell for up to 16 years and four months.

Anyone who believes they have wine stored at Legand Cellars should contact Irvine Police Detective Sarah Tunnicliffe at 949.724.7170
by Nov. 30 to reclaim their wine.

If there's any wine leftover, the Irvine Police Christmas party will be the event of the season.

UPDATE, OCT. 8, 8:52 A.M.: The lawyer for Scott Osumi, the Legend Cellars president, contacted me to clarify that George Osumi is a former employee of the Irvine business. George “was terminated after it was discovered he embezzled money
from the company and his son,” writes Correen Ferrentino of The Law Offices of Correen Ferrentino in Santa Ana, adding that the younger Osumi “has fully cooperated with the
investigation conducted by Irvine Police Department and has taken
significant steps to increase company security and assist in identify
the few customers victimized by the theft.”

Here is Ferrentino's full letter:

Dear Matt:

I represent Scott Osumi, the president of Legend Cellars, Inc.
Your article unfortunately misstates the District Attorney's Press
release. George Osumi is a former employee, not owner, of Legend
Cellars and was terminated after it was discovered he embezzled money
from the company and his son Scott Osumi. After his termination, it was
determined he also stole wine from some customer lockers. Scott Osumi,
president of Legend Cellars, Inc. has fully cooperated with the
investigation conducted by Irvine Police Department and has taken
significant steps to increase company security and assist in identify
the few customers victimized by the theft. Legend Cellars believes some
recovered wine in Irvine Police custody may still be unaccounted for and
has encourage current customers of Legend cellars to inventory their
wine collection.

We would appreciate
if you would correct the information you have published as it is having
a detrimental impact on Legend Cellars after Scott Osmui has contacted
all customers and made tremendous effort to assure them their wine is
safe at Legend Cellars.

-Correen Ferrentino
Santa Ana, Ca

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Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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