Former Jewelry Company Executive Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To One Year And One Day In Prison For Stealing Over $2 Million In Jewelry
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that INGRID LEDERHAAS-OKUN, a former Vice President of Product Development at a high-end jewelry company, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to one year and one day in prison for stealing over $2.1 million worth of jewelry from her former employer. LEDERHAAS-OKUN pled guilty on July 26, 2013 and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “With today’s sentence, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun has learned the price she must pay for stealing millions of dollars worth of fine jewelry from her employer – loss of her liberty and forfeiture of her ill-gotten gains.”
According to the charging instruments in this case, as well as statements made in other public filings and in related court proceedings:
From at least 2008 until February 2013, LEDERHAAS-OKUN worked as a Vice President of Product Development at the midtown Manhattan headquarters of one of the world’s premier high-end jewelers (the “Jewelry Company”). Her duties and responsibilities included ensuring that product designs could be manufactured and, to that end, she had authority to check out jewelry belonging to the Jewelry Company for work-related reasons, for example, to provide the jewelry to potential manufacturers to determine the cost of production.
Between November 2012 and February 2013, LEDERHAAS-OKUN abused her position and authority at the Jewelry Company to check out over 165 pieces of jewelry with a retail value of over $1.2 million, including numerous diamond bracelets, platinum or gold diamond drop and hoop earrings, platinum diamond rings, and platinum and diamond pendants. She then sold some if not all of this jewelry for $1.3 million to another company, a leading international buyer and reseller of jewelry with an office in midtown Manhattan (the “Jewelry Reseller”). The Jewelry Reseller paid for the merchandise that LEDERHAAS-OKUN had stolen either by paying her or her relative, in transactions arranged either by LEDERHAAS-OKUN or a friend working on her behalf. In total, LEDERHAAS-OKUN admitted to stealing over $2 million worth of jewelry in this manner.
To conceal her theft, LEDERHAAS-OKUN repeatedly made false statements to the Jewelry Company. For example, after her termination in February 2013, she told the Jewelry Company representatives that she had only recently checked out the missing jewelry in anticipation of creating a PowerPoint presentation for her supervisor, and that a draft of the presentation could be found on her office computer. However, the missing jewelry had been checked out months earlier, her supervisor was unaware of any such presentation being worked on by LEDERHAAS-OKUN, and there was no draft presentation on her computer. In addition, LEDERHAAS-OKUN claimed the jewelry in question could be found in a white envelope in her office, but a search of her office shortly after her departure did not yield any such envelope.
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In addition to the prison term, LEDERHAAS-OKUN, 47, of Darien, Connecticut, was also sentenced to one year of supervised release. She was also ordered to forfeit $2,114,873 and to pay $2,239,873 in restitution.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rosemary Nidiry is in charge of the prosecution and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Wilson is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case.