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CONTACT 13: Teacher caught stealing wine pleads not guilty

Posted at 6:20 PM, Jul 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-06 23:03:06-04

A teacher caught on camera stealing thousands of dollars of wine pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears first broke the story in May, which led to the criminal charge.

It's hard to argue with the surveillance images. They're grainy, but they clearly show a teacher turned thief. 

Even so, Goolsby Elementary first grade teacher Heather Avner Ogle pleaded not guilty Wednesday. 

Ogle appeared in a California courtroom, facing a felony charge for stealing thousands of dollars in wine from the World of Pinot Noir event in Santa Barbara in early March.

WOPN President Leslie Mead Renaud says, "It's not uncommon to have someone that gets pretty inebriated at the end of the event to try to take a bottle of wine, but I've never heard of anybody taking an actual case of wine."

Ogle was caught taking multiple cases of wine. Bacara Resort surveillance cameras show her loading them onto a luggage cart and walking to a waiting truck. 

Renaud noticed five cases of her wine went missing -- worth more than $2,000.

"For someone to have the nerve to actually roll luggage carts into the event and just start taking cases of wine in front of people is incredibly brazen," said Renaud.

In one image, you can see seven cases on the luggage cart Ogle is pushing. 

Renaud and others in the wine world say Ogle is well-known and suspected of stealing in the past.

"I would say it's not their first time at the rodeo. I mean, I can't imagine that anybody just walked into an event having never done this before and just decided to start stealing cases of wine."

Ogle has never responded to our requests for comment. In fact, she hid inside at Goolsby in April when she found out we were waiting to talk to her. 

The school district is aware of the felony charge. They have to wait for it to play out in court before deciding whether to take any action.

Ogle's California attorney says he doesn't comment on pending cases. 

The prosecutor from the Santa Barbara District Attorney's office says they're due back in court on July 22 to try to reach a resolution.