The suspect, George Osumi, 64, operated "Legend Cellars, Inc." in Irvine between Jan. 1, 2008 and June 21, 2012. The business allowed people to store their wine in storage lockers at a controlled temperature.
According to prosecutors, Osumi entered the private storage lockers of three different owners and switched bottles of wine with an estimated value of $2.7 million for cheaper wine bottles.
Ossumi directly auctioned some of the stolen wine bottles and deposited the money into his business account. He is also accused of hiring an unwitting friend to auction off some of the stolen wine in exchange for a portion of the proceeds.
In all, Osumi is accused of depositing $590,965 worth of stolen wine bottles into his business account and using the money to pay for personal expenses and legal fees.
The charges Osumi faces include three felony counts of second degree commercial burglary, one felony count of grand theft, embezzlement by employee, receiving stolen property, and one misdemeanor count for possession of burglary tools.
The defendant is also being charged with tax and insurance fraud in a separate case.
The former businessman faces a maximum sentence of 16 years and four months in state prison. He is being held on $4 million bail.
Anyone who stores their wine at Legend Cellars, Inc. is urged to call Irvine Police Department Detective Sarah Tunnicliffe at (949) 724-7170 by Nov. 30, 2012 to reclaim possession of their wine.