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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Former Tiffany Exec Sentenced To A year In Prison For Stealing $2M From Employer

Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun
In terms of news, it hasn't been a good holiday for Tiffany & Co. Over the weekend the luxury jeweler learned it lost its dispute with Swatch Group. Now, the latest high-profile mishap was the sentencing Monday of a former employee for the theft of 2.1 million in jewelry from the company’s Fifth Avenue headquarters building. 

Of course it's a much more difficult holiday for Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, a former VP of design & product development at Tiffany & Co., who was sentence to a year and a day in prison in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe. 

Lederhaas-Okun, 47, of Darien, Conn., pled guilty in July for the theft, which occurred over a four-month period. In addition to the prison term, she was sentenced to one year of supervised release, ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million pay and more than $2.2 million in restitution.

Under her duties and responsibilities at Tiffany, Lederhaas-Okun had the authority to check out jewelry belonging to Tiffany for work-related reasons. Between November 2012 and February 2013, she admitted to checking out more than 165 pieces of jewelry with a retail value of more than $1.2 million, including 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 in Manhattan, who the US Attorney’s office and the court haven’t named. It’s also unclear whether the company knew it was purchasing stolen jewelry. 

To conceal her theft, she repeatedly made false statements to Tiffany, according to court documents. For example, after her termination in February 2013, she told company representatives that she had only recently checked out the missing jewelry in anticipation of creating a PowerPoint presentation. However, the missing jewelry had been checked out months earlier, her supervisor was unaware of any such presentation being worked on by her and there was no presentation on her computer. In addition, she claimed the stolen jewelry 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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