The trial for a former Douglas County winemaker accused of stealing money from business partners and investors has been delayed yet again, meaning it will be more than two years since charges were brought before the case makes it into a courtroom.
John Christopher Olson, former owner of Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery on Curry Road in Roseburg, was arrested in June 2019 and charged with racketeering, a felony. Olson, 55, who according to court records, lives in Bandon, is out on $150,000 bail. His trial was initially scheduled to begin in Bend this past June.
However, Olson’s attorney, Todd H. Grover, asked that the trial be postponed because of concerns surrounding COVID-19, according to court documents. Grover also argued that he needed more time to prepare for the “complex matter.”
Circuit Court Judge Wells B. Ashby granted the continuance and later rescheduled the trial for Feb. 23 in front of a 12-person jury. Now that trial date has also been postponed.
This time it was the prosecution who asked for more time to prepare.
On Dec. 10, Deputy District Attorney Andrew R. Doyle filed a motion asking that the case be continued because he recently took it over from another prosecutor.
“This is a complex ORICO case,” Doyle wrote in his motion. “The allegations involve business enterprises and large sums of money. Although I am still bringing myself up to speed on the file, I can say, with zero hesitation, that should this case eventually go to trial, it will require expert witnesses, DOJ testimony, and many, many financial exhibits/spreadsheets. Long story short: I will not be ready to try this case on the current 2/23/2021 trial date.”
The judge granted to request to continue the trial. On Wednesday, a new trial date was set: Nov. 31, 2021.
Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery, LLC, was formed in 2011, with Olson listed as the company’s initial registered agent. Its principal business office was listed as 512 N Curry Road in Roseburg.
During a two-year period from 2014 to 2016, Tesoaria received nearly $1 million dollars in loans, most of it from Oregon Pacific Bank, according to court documents. Authorities say much of that money was never paid back.
Olson and Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery have been the subject of at least three civil lawsuits involving multiple parties, court records show.
As part of the civil cases, more than 100,000 bottles of wine were seized from Tesoaria, and another 500 gallons of wine — the equivalent of about 2,500 bottles — had to be destroyed, according to court documents.
Additionally, the equipment from Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery was sold off at auction, netting nearly $200,000, court records show.
The property on Hess Lane was also put up for sale. The initial asking price was $990,000, but that was dropped to $795,000 due to some deficiencies with the property, court records show. The nearly 3,200 square-foot home features three bedrooms and three bathrooms, and sits on 15 acres with South Umpqua River frontage, according to the web site Zillow.
Despite the delays in the trial, there has been some activity related to the case.
Olson was granted permission to leave Coos County twice to take trips. He was allowed to travel to Yellowstone in Montana for a 10-day camping trip in early August, and to go to Indianapolis for a week in September to attend a wedding.
And in September, Olson filed a motion to have the charges against him dismissed on the grounds that Deschutes County is not the proper place for the trial to take place. Olson argued that he lives in Coos County and the alleged crimes took place at his winery in Douglas County.
The prosecution countered that the bulk of the alleged crimes Olson committed involved an individual named Thomas May, who lives in Deschutes County, making that the proper venue for the charges and subsequent trial.
Following a hearing in early November, the judge agreed with the prosecution and denied the motion to dismiss the charges.