The owner of a Northern California wine storage company has been charged with embezzling thousands of dollars worth of wine from his clients.
Mark Anderson, whose Sausalito Cellars stores wine for collectors from around the world, is facing 10 counts of embezzlement in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. Chief deputy district attorney Barry Borden would only confirm that the case involved "at least several thousand dollars" worth of wine, but reports in local news media outlets put the figure at nearly $1 million, with about 7,600 bottles of rare wine reported missing.
The district attorney has been investigating Anderson for more than a year and first filed charges in March 2004. "As the case has progressed, more victims have come to light," Borden said. "There are now 10 separate groups of victims."
Anderson referred all comments to his lawyer, Douglas Rappaport, who said the issue is about poor record-keeping, not embezzlement. "It's better left addressed by the civil courts," he said, adding that some of the accusers have already filed civil and small-claims complaints. "It's a case of missing wine based on missing records," Rappaport said.
Borden said that not only is the case a criminal matter, but that the crime Anderson is charged with is also considered a felony. "Potentially, [Anderson] could get anywhere from probation to several years in state prison," Borden said.
Sausalito Cellars advertises itself as "a professional wine inventory management company," and does not sell or buy wine. The company stores private collections in its temperature- and humidity-controlled warehouses and allows clients to view their inventory and account history over the Internet. The wine is not stored in self-service lockers, but, according to the company's Web site, collections are "segregated on our cellar shelves."
Anderson is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 18 to set the date for a preliminary hearing.