Crime

Michigan Jeweler Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

CrimeSep 16, 2020

Michigan Jeweler Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

Joseph DuMouchelle admitted to his role in a multi-million-dollar diamond fraud case.

Detroit—Michigan jeweler and auctioneer Joseph DuMouchelle has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a multi-million-dollar diamond scheme that involved a 77-carat diamond known as the “Yellow Rose.”

DuMouchelle, owner of Joseph DuMouchelle Fine & Estate Jewelry Buyers, Sellers, Appraisers and Auctioneers in Birmingham, Michigan, was initially charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in November 2019.

The following June, federal prosecutors filed a criminal information against him, which superseded the complaint and charged him with wire fraud.

At that time DuMouchelle pleaded not guilty, but then pivoted to guilty, pleading Monday via videoconference.

According to the criminal information, between February and May of 2019, DuMouchelle “devised and executed a scheme to obtain money by means of false and fraudulent material pretenses, representations and promises.”

In late 2018, prosecutors say a man named Thomas Ritter, who is related to the brother-in-law of DuMouchelle’s wife, contacted the jeweler to collect on a $430,000 debt.

Instead of paying, DuMouchelle offered Ritter an opportunity to allegedly make more money: buy and resell “The Yellow Rose Diamond,” a 77.12-carat, VS2 natural fancy vivid yellow diamond.

DuMouchelle told Ritter they could buy it for $12 million, sell it for $16 million and split the profit.

Ritter agreed, but told DuMouchelle he wanted to transfer the $12 million directly to the seller of the Yellow Rose.

According to the criminal information, DuMouchelle falsified documents and emails to make it appear Ritter was doing so when the money was really was going straight into his account, and even crafted a fake receipt to make it appear that the stone had been purchased.

“By this plea we wish to show good faith and note that it represents just part of a much larger story. We look forward to telling our side of the events as the matter progresses,” DuMouchelle’s attorney, Jonathan Epstein, said in an email to National Jeweler Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, as part of the plea agreement with the government, DuMouchelle acknowledged that he has defrauded other victims. The initial criminal complaint outlined a much broader, complex scheme involving more jewelry and additional victims.

Their losses will be included as relevant conduct in calculating his prison sentence and in ordering restitution.

DuMouchelle is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 13, where he faces up to 12 years and seven months in prison.

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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