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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tiffany VP facing 20 years in jail after she is accused of stealing $1.3m in diamond

A former Tiffany vice-president was seized by FBI agents at her home today after allegedly stealing more than $1.3million jewellery from the luxury store.

Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, was head of merchandise and product development for the New York brand whose luxury flagship store sits on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

Lederhaas-Okun is accused of stealing 164 pieces including diamond bracelets, rings and pendants.
She faces up to 30 years in jail if found guilty.

Lederhaas-Okun was arrested at her home in the upmarket community of Darien, Connecticut early on Tuesday.

The 46-year-old has been charged with wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.
As vice president of product development, Lederhaas-Okun had authority to 'check out' jewelry from Tiffany to provide to potential manufacturers to determine production costs.

Authorities allege that after she left Tiffany in February, the company discovered she had checked out 164 items that were never returned.

According to a criminal complaint, the missing jewelry included 'numerous diamond bracelets in 18-carot gold; diamond drop and hoop earrings in platinum or 18-carot gold; diamond rings in platinum; rings with precious stones in 18-carot gold; and platinum and diamond pendants'.

When confronted about the missing jewelry, Lederhaas-Okun claimed that she had left some of it behind at Tiffany and that some had been lost or damaged, the complaint said.

But an investigation found that Lederhaas-Okun resold the goods to an unidentified international dealer for more than $1.3 million, it said.

Bank records showed that since January 2011, the dealer wrote 75 checks to her or her husband for amounts of up to $47,400, the complaint said.

Investigators also recovered purchase forms signed by Lederhaas-Okun that said the items were her personal property.

Authorities allege Lederhaas-Okun purposely checked out items valued at under $10,000 apiece to avoid detection.

The company takes a daily inventory of all checked-out items worth more than $25,000.

She used a series of excuses to cover-up the thousands of dollars of missing trinkets which was uncovered when a fuller inventory was taken in February.

According to Lederhaas-Okun's LinkedIn profile, she attended Georgetown University in D.C.

She was a vice-president at Tiffany until March this year when she was let go as part of 'downsizing' after 22 years with the company.

She described her role as 'responsible for all aspects of $150M designer business' at the high-end jewellery brand.

Her husband Robert Okun is a hedge fund manager and a former executive director of UBS financial services. Calls to the Okun home were not answered today.

Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun is due in court to be arraigned on Tuesday.

If convicted, Lederhaas-Okun faces up to 20 years in prison. The name of her attorney wasn't immediately available.

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