Swell Coffee Merch Auctioned Off Amid $300M Fraud Case Against Owner – NBC 7 San Diego

A warehouse of surf shop merchandise and industrial-sized bags of coffee was up for auction amid a $300 million fraud case against the former owner and operator, renowned San Diego business executive Gina Champion-Cain.

Skateboards, swimsuits, flip-flops, sunglasses, watches and 130-pound bags of coffee from San Diego’s Swell Coffee Co. and Mission Beach Surf Co. were just some of the items up for grabs on the Cal Auctions website. The auction began on Jan. 29 and closed on Feb. 19, according to the website.

“Everything is name brand and very good deals here if you want to bid on it,” said Alejandro Miranda, Operations Manager for Cal Auctions. “Just sit in front of your computer, open an account, register and that’s it.”

People could also drop by the shop to preview the items before bidding, Miranda said. But with the auction closing Wednesday, he said act fast.

Take a look at some of the items in the gallery below:

“It’s unfortunate that this has happened to a San Diego business. We will do our best to aid in liquidating all of the property on behalf of the receiver in this court case,” said Jason Hanks, President of Cal Auctions, in a press release.

The Cal Auctions warehouse is located at 4514 Federal Boulevard, near the intersection of I-805 and state Route 94.

NBC 7’s Chris Chan takes a deeper dive into the allegations against Gina Champion-Cain.

Swell Coffee was part of The Patio Group, a group of eateries owned and operated by Champion-Cain.

The U.S. District Court directed assets from Swell Coffee Co. to be auctioned off in San Diego amid accusations that Champion-Cane defrauded investors out of $300 million through her real estate company, American National Investments.

19-page civil complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Champion-Cain alleged she had misled investors into believing they had an opportunity to fund high-interest, short-term loans to people seeking California liquor licenses.

SEC claimed Champion-Cain would tell investors they could make a return on each license that was approved. She allegedly fabricated documents, according to the complaint, and then allegedly used the money from investors to fund her other businesses like The Patio chain restaurants, Saska’s, coffee shops, lifestyle brands and rental properties.

The SEC said approximately 50 people, nationwide, were victims of Champion-Cain’s alleged fraud scheme.

The Patio Group also ran Himmelberg’s in the East Village and Bao Beach in Mission Beach.


San Diego’s Cohn Restaurant Group will, at least for now, be running some of the businesses belonging to The Patio Group. The local hospitality heavy-hitter owned by David and Lesley Cohn announced The Patio on Lamont in Pacific Beach, Surf Rider Pizza in La Mesa and Ocean Beach, and Saska’s in Mission Beach would be placed “under the operational guidance” of the Cohn Restaurant Group (CRG) starting Sept. 30.

“These are great San Diego brands, and even as a temporary management group, the Cohn Restaurant Group would like to continue to run them the way they’ve been run,” a rep with the company previously said.

The Cohn Restaurant Group has been around for nearly 40 years. The hospitality collective runs 27 restaurants including well-known spots like Corvette Diner, The Prado at Balboa Park, Coasterra, Island Prime, and Indigo Grill, just to name a few.