Former Tiffany's executive Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun's scheme to steal more than $2.1 million worth of jewelry from her employer was the perfect crime. Until she got caught.
Lederhaas-Okun, a 46-year-old former vice president of product development at Tiffany & Co. who had worked at the company since 1991, pled guilty to the multi million-dollar theft on Friday, WWD is reporting. The news comes as a shock to those in the industry who worked closely with Lederhaas-Okun, describing her as “nice" and “pleasant." She even has two recommendations on her LinkedIn page.
As a crook, she was also fairly crafty. Since at least January of 2011 to February of this year, Lederhaas-Okun had been "checking out" more than 165 pieces jewelry, worth more than $1.2 million, ostensibly for legit purposes. One such reason she gave, for instance, was that she was “creating a PowerPoint presentation for her supervisor." In reality, Lederhaas-Okun had taken the loot to a “leading international buyer and reseller of jewelry with an office in midtown Manhattan,” and sold it in parcels, either through herself, her husband or a friend working on her behalf, netting a total of $1.3 million overall.
During an internal revenue check in November, Lederhaas-Okun told her employer that the jewelry she had checked out would have to be "written off." Tiffany's, however, smelled a rat. The jeweler claimed that none of the inventory was returned "contrary to the usual practice," such as in the case of damaged jewelry, which would have had to be written off because it had been "rendered unusable in some way."
After several last-ditch attempts from Lederhaas-Okun--the fake PowerPoint presentation which could not be found, and a claim that the jewelry was in an envelope on her desk, which, again, could not be found--Tiffany's pressed charges.
Having pled guilty to theft, as well as one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, Lederhaas-Okun now faces up to 46 months in jail, a considerably shorter sentence than would be typical of her crime. Lederhaas-Okun reached the deal with the authorities in exchange for handing over $2.1 million and agreeing to further restore $2.2 million.
If this case weren't already sounding like a made-for-TV-movie, the U.S. attorney's quips might push it over the edge.
“Diamonds are forever but stolen diamonds are not,” attorney Preet Bharara said. “Over a period of years, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, an executive at a high-end jewelry company, looted her employer’s jewelry inventory and then resold millions of dollars’ worth of the merchandise in order to enrich herself. Today, she stands convicted for her thievery and faces the prospect of prison.”