- The former vice president is accused of reselling 165 pieces of jewelry
- The jewelry included diamond bracelets, earrings and pendants, officials say
- It was discovered missing after Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun was laid off, Tiffany's says
A former vice president of product development at Tiffany & Co. has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1.2 million worth of jewelry from the luxury brand, the U.S. state's attorney's office said.
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, was arrested on July 2, accused of stealing 165 pieces of jewelry, including diamond bracelets, earrings and pendants, between January 2011 and February 2013. Officials said Lederhaas-Okun abused her position to check out the pieces and write off or cancel the costs of the jewelry, later reselling the pieces falsely as her own.
On Friday, Lederhaas-Okun, pleaded guilty to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. As part of a plea deal she agreed to forfeit $2,114,873 and to make restitution in the amount of $2,239,873. It was not made clear what the forfeiture involved.
According to a federal complaint, Lederhaas-Okun was terminated by Tiffany & Co. in February 2013 as a result of downsizing within the company. The day after her termination, Tiffany's conducted an inventory review and discovered the missing jewelry. Lederhaas-Okun then continued to make false statements to the company through e-mail, including that the jewelry could be found in a white envelope at her desk, officials said. A search of her office, however, did not uncover the envelope, according to a news release.
Tiffany's has declined comment on the case.
According to the complaint, the jewelry store that Lederhaas-Okun sold the jewelry to is a leading international buyer and reseller of jewelry with an office in Midtown Manhattan. More than 75 checks were made to Lederhaas-Okun and her husband, ranging from $7,525 to $47,400, the complaint said. It also states that an unnamed friend of Lederhaas-Okun assisted with the transactions.
"Diamonds are forever but stolen diamonds are not," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release. "Over a period of years, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, an executive at a high-end jewelry company, looted her employer's jewelry inventory and then resold millions of dollars' worth of the merchandise in order to enrich herself."
As part of her plea agreement, Lederhaas-Okun will no longer be charged with wire fraud, which would have carried a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Lederhaas-Okun is set to be sentenced by Judge Paul Gardephe on December 10.