Former vice president accused of reselling 165 pieces to international jewelry company
Sold jewelry includes diamond bracelets, earrings and pendants, officials say
Jewelry was discovered missing after executive was laid off, Tiffany's says
A former vice president of product development at Tiffany & Co. is accused of stealing $1.3 million worth of jewelry from the luxury brand and selling it to an international jewelry company, an unnamed FBI representative said.
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, was arrested Tuesday. She is 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.
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.
Linda Buckley, vice president for Tiffany & Co., said, “In deference to the U.S. Attorney’s investigation, we are not in a position to comment at this time.”
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.
“Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun took advantage of the access her employment afforded her to expensive jewelry.” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said in a news release. “A privileged position in a prestigious company does not insulate a thief from arrest and prosecution.”
Lederhaas-Okun is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. She was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
Bail was set at $250,000 but Lederhaas-Okun was released from custody on her own signature and given a week to post bond, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York. She was placed under travel restriction, required to surrender her passport and appointed a federal public defender for the time being.
Lederhaas-Okun’s attorney, Sabrina Shroff, could not be reached for comment.
CNN’s Elwyn Lopez and Elizabeth Landers contributed to this report.