A former employee of storage business Legend Cellars has been jailed for six years after stealing US$2.7m of wine from customers' lockers.
George Osumi II, aged 65, pleaded guilty in a California court to dozens of felony counts related to both the theft of the wine and ‘under reporting’ a further $3.5m in payroll to an insurance compensation scheme for workers at his construction businesses, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
During the hearing, the court heard how Osumi three times broke into private clients’ storage lockers at Legend Cellars.
He replaced stolen bottles with ‘much cheaper brands’ in an attempt to avoid being caught.
In 2008, Osumi hired an unsuspecting friend to sell some of the wine at auction, fetching him $280,000 in personal proceeds.
Then, between July 2011 and early June 2012, Osumi auctioned more wine himself, securing another $300,000. In total, his stolen cache of wines had an estimated value of $2.7m.
As previously reported by Decanter.com, Osumi ceased working at Legend Cellars in 2012 after he was found to have embezzled money from the company. His theft of wine was discovered later.
Written by Chris Mercer