Ex-Tiffany Executive Sentenced to 366 Days in Jail for $2.1 Million Jewelry Theft
When you work at the famed jeweler Tiffany & Co., the phrase "do not steal our priceless merchandise" may not be explicitly printed in the job description, but that's because it's universally understood. Alas, in a move that feels more fairy tale than real life, Tiffany's former vice president of product development, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, failed to heed that part of the employee handbook when she stole her first piece of jewelry from Tiffany in 2005 — a pendant.
As a VP, Lederhaas-Okun was allowed to check out pieces of Tiffany's jewelry for job-related purposes. And she did just that during her years at the jewelers, checking out over 165 pieces, including diamond bracelets in 18-carat gold, diamond earrings, diamond pendants, and diamond rings.
But after she was fired during a mass layoff last February, Tiffany began to realize that those gems never quite found their way back into the hallowed robin's egg blue vaults. Some of the missing pieces were found in Lederhaas-Okun's home; others had been sold to an international dealer for $1.3 million, while she and her husband pocketed the profits.
This was far from a crime of necessity for Lederhaas-Okun, who lived in a $4.4 million home in Darien, Conn., and once brought in $360,000 a year at Tiffany. No, it was a crime fueled by depression, according to her attorney, Sabrina Shroff. Lederhaas-Okun allegedly stole because she couldn't have children, because she was passed over for a promotion at Tiffany, and because her marriage was crumbling.
So what happens to former Tiffany employees who've been caught with their hands deep in the jewelry box? For a heist of such magnitude, Lederhaas-Okun's jail sentence is light: a year and one day in prison. Financially, though, it's a lot more substantial; she was ordered to forfeit over $2.11 million to the government and pay $2.24 million in restitution.
Her husband sought a divorce after the arrest, and their $4.4 million home is now for sale, in order to satisfy the court forfeiture. The moral of the story is quite simple, kids: no good comes of stealing diamonds.