National Jeweler Network

Public Policy & Issues

Former Tiffany executive gets 1 year in theft case

December 27, 2013

New York--A former vice president of product development at Tiffany & Co. was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for stealing more than $2 million in jewelry from the New York-based retailer.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun was sentenced Monday before U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe after pleading guilty in July to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property.

The maximum sentence for this charge is 10 years, but both sides worked out a plea deal in which they agreed that, in this case, the maximum would be four years.

In the end, the judge handed down a one-year sentence to the 47-year-old Darien, Conn. resident plus one year of supervised released and ordered her to pay $2.2 million in restitution and forfeit $2.1 million.

Lederhaas-Okun’s attorney did not respond to request for comment on the sentencing.

According to information released in the case, as vice president of product development at Tiffany, Lederhaas-Okun’s responsibilities included ensuring proposed designs could be manufactured. Because of this, she had the authority to check out jewelry to, for example, take it to manufacturers to determine the cost of production.

Between November 2012 and February 2013, when she was let go due to downsizing, she “abused her position” by checking out more than 165 pieces of jewelry worth more than $1.2 million, including diamond bracelets, platinum and diamond rings and diamond pendants.

She sold some, if not all, of this jewelry to an unnamed, Manhattan-based buyer and reseller of jewelry for $1.3 million. The company paid either her or her relative in transactions arranged either by Lederhaas-Okun or a friend working on her behalf.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said they do not have any comment on whether additional individuals will be charged in the case.

Lederhaas-Okun admitted to stealing more than $2 million in jewelry in this manner.

To cover up the theft, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that she told Tiffany several different stories about what had happened to the missing jewelry, including that it was checked out to create a PowerPoint presentation for her supervisor, a presentation that didn’t exist, and that the jewelry could be found in a white envelope in her office.