Santa Barbara winemaker allegedly embezzled $1.2 million

November 11, 2015
Christian Lucas Garvin

Christian Lucas Garvin

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.



  1. Pelican1 says:

    Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine, when you gonna let me get sober. Let me alone. Let me go home. Let me back and start over.

    Well, I’ve rambled around this dirty old town singing for nickels and dimes.
    Times getting’ rough. I can’t get enough to buy me a little bottle of wine.

    Well, little hotel, older than hell, cold as the dark in the mine.
    Light so dim, I had to grin, I got me a little bottle of wine.

    Well, the preacher will preach and the teacher will teach. The miner will dig in the mine.
    I ride the rods, trusting in God, huggin’ my little bottle of wine.

    Well, pain in my head, bugs in my bed, pants so old that they shine.
    Out on the street, I tell the people I meet to buy me a little bottle of wine.

    Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine, when you gonna let me get sober.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. tomsquawk says:

    i’m laughing. the whine made me do it.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  3. Pelican1 says:

    “They are not long, the days of wine and roses.”
    Ernest Dowson

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  4. willieslo says:

    The looks the talk of trust

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  5. 65buick says:


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  6. PolyInsider says:

    If you think about it, I doubt they could make the failure to report the embezzled money as income charge stick, if he has a sharp lawyer. Since embezzlement is a crime, reporting the income would be self-incrimination, and he’s protected from that by the fifth amendment. They can get him on the embezzlement itself, but not on the failure to report as income.

    (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
    • jonhartz says:

      You need to look at how the feds got Al Capone: not for murder or racketeering, but for not reporting his stolen money and paying taxes on it, The 5th Amendment does not apply to these kinds of cases.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • mkaney says:

      That’s humorous that you think the laws apply to your masters. They do not. What they do is add about 10 levels of bureaucracy in a situation like this so that the tasks assigned to each level independent from one another do not violate the Constitution. This is how they brought Al Capone down, not reporting his illegal income.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • tictac1 says:

        Essentially correct. The IRS rules are not subject to the 5th amendment, which the IRS calls a “privilege”. Note that the first 10 amendments are called the “Bill of Rights”, but that hasn’t stopped our Federal government from treating them all as privileges to be revoked for any reason.

        Interestingly, he CAN deduct the expense of his defense-

        Idiocracy Now!

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  7. diamond says:

    Failing to report embezzled funds as income. Ha Ha Ha! What section does that fall Under?

    Can Imagine….

    IRS Section 48 D.1A, Did you or your spouse embezzle any money from your employer? If so check here.

    Please enter how much was embezzled during this tax period

    Enter your profession (1) for politician (2) corporate manager (3) bank executive (4) common thief (5) other

    (33) 33 Total Votes - 33 up - 0 down

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