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Cloverdale wine executive arrested on embezzlement charges

Suspected of stealing $250,000 from Brutocao Cellars

Christopher Mulcahy

COURTESY OF MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 8:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 7:45 a.m.

A Cloverdale wine executive is the latest on the North Coast to be arrested on suspicion of stealing a significant amount of money from his employer.

Chris Mulcahy, 50, was formerly the chief financial officer of Brutocao Cellars in Hopland and currently co-owns Sapphire Hill Winery in Healdsburg with his wife.

Mulcahy was arrested Saturday on suspicion of forging checks and was booked into Mendocino County Jail, where he remained Wednesday night on $500,000 bail, according to a jail official.

Mulcahy is suspected of embezzling about $250,000 from Brutocao, said Steve Brutocao, who co-owns the winery with other family members.

Brutocao said he fired Mulcahy in January 2012 after he discovered irregularities in the books.

"We're working with the authorities to bring justice," Brutocao said Wednesday. "He was a trusted employee for a number of years."

Mendocino County sheriff's detectives conducted a months-long investigation of Mulcahy prior to seeking a warrant for his arrest, Lt. Greg Van Patten said.

The Mendocino County District Attorney's Office assisted with the investigation.

Brutocao said Mulcahy worked for his winery for about six years. Prior to that, he spent 14 years with Coca-Cola, according to the Sapphire Hills website.

Mulcahy also owns Family Wine Services, a consulting business.

His wife, Lisa, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Since 2011, North Coast detectives have investigated more than $4 million in funds stolen from local companies ranging from large real estate firms to churches and small businesses.

A former Santa Rosa Junior College police officer on Wednesday admitted stealing from campus parking meters, but he disagreed with the amount. Prosecutors say it was nearly $300,000.

In one of the largest cases in recent years, Jodi Michele Azevedo, 44, of Petaluma pleaded guilty in December to stealing nearly $1.6 million from a firm where she had worked for 16 years. Azevedo is to receive a six-year prison sentence.

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.

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