Ex-Tiffany & Co. Exec Stole $1.3 Million in Jewelry

A former executive of Tiffany & Co. was charged in the theft of more than $1 million worth of jewelry.

(Matt Slocum/AP)

A pedestrian walks by a Tiffany & Co. jewelry store.

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A former executive jeweler at Tiffany & Co. was arrested at her Connecticut home on Tuesday for allegedly stealing and reselling more than $1 million worth of jewelry.

Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, a former vice president of product development, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. If convicted, Lederhaas-Okun could face 30 years in prison, according to FBI officials.

The report does not explicitly name Tiffany as the company in question, but representatives confirmed it was the company cited, according to Reuters.

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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that Lederhaas-Okun "went from a vice president at a high-end jewelry company to jewel thief" for stealing and selling items that she falsely claimed were her own.

Between November 2012 and February 2013, Lederhaas-Okun checked out more than 165 pieces of jewelry, including numerous diamond bracelets, rings and pendants, as well as platinum and gold earrings, and sold the jewelry to another company for $1.3 million, according to a federal report. Lederhaas-Okun, 46, had access to the jewelry because part of her responsibilities in her position at Tiffany's authorized her to check out jewelry for work-related reasons.

Lederhaas-Okun and her husband received more than 75 checks for up to $47,400, according to CNN.


George Venizelos, FBI assistant director in charge, said in a statement that Lederhaas-Okun "took advantage" of her position.

"She allegedly stole numerous items, sold them for over a million dollars, then engaged in a series of lies in an attempt to cover up the theft," he said. "A privileged position in a prestigious company does not insulate a thief from arrest and prosecution."

In order to cover up her theft, Lederhaas-Okun lied to the jewelry company. After she was terminated in February 2013, for example, Lederhaas-Okun told the company she had checked out jewelry to work on a presentation, according to the report. But her supervisor was unaware of a presentation and there was no evidence that Lederhaas-Okun had begun drafting one.

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Lederhaas-Okun also said the missing pieces were in an envelope in her office, but when her office was searched, the jewelry was nowhere to be found, according to the report.

Authorities are also arguing that Lederhaas-Okun tried to avoid detection by checking out items valued at under $10,000. The jewelry company takes a daily inventory of all items that are checked out that are worth more than $25,000.

Lederhaas-Okun was released on a $250,000 bail on Tuesday. She was placed under travel restriction and had to give up her passport, CNN reported.

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