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California man jailed for stealing nearly $3M in wine

A Newport Beach, Calif., man was convicted and sentenced to six years in state prison for stealing $2.7 million worth of wine from his clients’ storage lockers and under-reporting over $3.5 million in payroll to his workers' compensation insurance carrier, prosecutors said on Friday.

George Osumi, 65, a construction business owner, pleaded guilty to charges including: failing to file a tax return to avoid paying taxes, identity theft, perjury, grand theft, and aggravated white collar crime, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Osumi is accused of breaking into private wine storage lockers at Legend Cellars, Inc. in Irvine, stealing other people’s wine, auctioning it off, depositing the money into his bank account, and replacing the wine he took with a cheaper brand, prosecutors said.

The wine he’s accused of stealing had an estimated value of $2.7 million, officials said.

At least once he hired a friend to auction off some of the stolen wine in exchange for a portion of the proceeds, prosecutors said, adding the man did not know the wine was stolen.

He also deposited about $280,000 into his business account and used the money to pay for personal expenses and legal fees, officials alleged.

Osumi is accused of auctioning some of the stolen wine himself for nearly $311,000 at least twice and having the money deposited into his business account, the District Attorney’s Office said.

A family member of one of the clients reported the theft to the Irvine Police Department, which launched an investigation.