Santa Barbara winemaker allegedly embezzled $1.2 million
November 11, 2015
A Solvang man is accused of embezzling $1.2 million from a Santa Barbara winery he used to manage. [KEYT]
Christian Lucas Garvin, 41, worked as the manager and winemaker at Oreana Winery in Santa Barbara from 2005 to 2013. He now faces charges of grand theft embezzlement and tax fraud.
Garvin pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday.
While working for Oreana Winery, Garvin had a 10 percent ownership stake in the business. The other 90 percent belonged to two business partners from Los Angeles.
After the business partners discovered discrepancies in inventory and record keeping that occurred over several years, they conducted an audit which led them to believe Garvin embezzled $200,000 from the business.
Marvin left the winery shortly after the audit.
A criminal investigation into the alleged embezzlement began in 2013. The Santa Barbara Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit, the Franchise Tax Board’s Criminal Investigation Bureau and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office took part in the investigation.
Investigators determined Garvin diverted $1.2 million from Oreana Winery into his personal accounts. He then made personal use of most of the money, investigators say.
Garvin also filed false state income tax returns from 2008 to 2013 by failing to report embezzled funds as income, according to the Franchise Tax Board.
Officers arrested Garvin last week in Buellton.
During his court appearance, a judge reduced Garvin’s bail from $400,000 to $260,000. But, Garvin must surrender his passport prior to posting bail, and he must agree to abstain from using illegal drugs or alcohol. He is also barred from traveling outside California.