By Brecken Branstrator
Detroit—A new federal charge has been filed against a prominent Michigan jeweler in a months-long fraud case involving millions of dollars.

Court papers show that last week, federal prosecutors filed a criminal information against Joseph DuMouchelle, owner of Joseph DuMouchelle Fine & Estate Jewelry Buyers, Sellers, Appraisers and Auctioneers in Birmingham, Michigan.

He has been charged with wire fraud and pleaded not guilty  Monday, according to court records.

This criminal information supersedes the criminal complaint filed against DuMouchelle last fall.

The criminal information outlines the charge against the jeweler and his alleged actions similarly—though the details are pared down—but it is a charge levied by a public prosecutor without the involvement of a grand jury. (Court records show that DuMouchelle has waived his right to indictment by grand jury.)

The criminal information states 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.”

It states he was contacted by “T.R.,” a man identified in the criminal complaint as Thomas Ritter, who is related to the brother-in-law of DuMouchelle’s wife, in late 2018 to collect on a $430,000 debt.

Instead of paying, the jeweler 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.

According to court papers, DuMouchelle told Ritter they could buy it for $12 million, sell it for $16 million and split the profit 70/30.

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 misrepresented an industry expert who had written up a report about the stone as its seller.

He also falsified documents and emails to make it seem like the account to which Ritter was depositing the $12 million was the seller’s account when the money actually went to DuMouchelle directly, court papers state.

After Ritter sent the money, DuMouchelle allegedly sent back a fake receipt to make it seem like the stone had been purchased.

The criminal information goes on to state that immediately after the sum was added to his account, DuMouchelle withdrew most of it and used to it pay personal and business debts and expenses.

DuMouchelle’s attorney, Jonathan Epstein, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

A wire fraud charge is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

TAGS:   Crime
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