DARIEN, Conn. – Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun was arrested in her Darien home by federal authorities early Tuesday in connection with the theft of more than $1.3 million worth of jewelry from her former employer, Tiffany & Co. in New York, federal authorities said.
Lederhaas-Okun, 46, is accused of taking 165 pieces of jewelry from Tiffany and selling some or all of it to another jewelry company for $1.3 million while she was a vice president of product development at Tiffany, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, which is handling the case.
She worked in that position at Tiffany from January 2011 to February 2013, but the theft is believed to have occurred from November 2012 to February 2013, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
“As alleged, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun went from a vice president at a high-end jewelry company to jewel thief,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “She abused her access to valuable jewelry in order to steal and then resell over $1 million worth of items that she falsely represented as her own, as the complaint describes.
"Her arrest shows that no matter how privileged their position in a company, employees who steal will face the full consequences of the law.”
Lederhaas-Okun was arrested in her home in Darien and was scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court Tuesday.
She was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. Combined, she faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.
While at Tiffany’s, Lederhaas-Okun’s job “included ensuring that product designs could be manufactured and, to that end, she had authority to check out jewelry belonging to the jewelry company for work-related reasons, such as to provide the jewelry to potential manufacturers to determine the cost of production,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
To conceal the theft, Lederhaas-Okun made numerous false statements, the U.S. attorney’s office said, including that the items would have to be written off or that the missing pieces could be found in her former office but they were not recovered.
"As alleged, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun took advantage of the access her employment afforded her to expensive jewelry," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos. "She allegedly stole numerous items, sold them for over $1 million, then engaged in a series of lies in an attempt to cover up the theft. A privileged position in a prestigious company does not insulate a thief from arrest and prosecution."
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