NEW YORK - An executive at Tiffany & Co., who worked at the upscale jeweler for over 20 years, is accused of stealing more than $1 million in jewelry, including diamond rings and platinum pendants, according to the FBI.
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, a vice president of product development, allegedly stole the jewelry over at least two years, reselling them to an unidentified Manhattan jewelry company, and then lying about their whereabouts.
Lederhass-Okun was arrested Tuesday at her home in Connecticut and charged with wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property. She faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty.
"As alleged, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun went from a vice president at a high-end jewelry company to jewel thief," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "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... Her arrest shows that no matter how privileged their position in a company, employees who steal will face the full consequences of the law."
Lederhass-Okun allegedly stole 165 pieces of jewelry worth $1.2 million "including numerous diamond bracelets, platinum or gold diamond drop and hoop earrings, platinum diamond rings, and platinum and diamond pendants," according to a criminal complaint unsealed this morning in federal court in New York.
Investigators, however, believe they will likely discover millions more in stolen merchandise.
Among the items recovered from Lederhass-Okun's home were 32 diamond bangle bracelets, each worth $10,000, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
As part of her job, Lederhass-Okun had access to Tiffany designs and pieces which she could access and ship to manufacturers. That authority came with the ability to "write off" inventory that become unsalable because it had been damaged, according to the complaint. Those pieces should have been returned to the company to be destroyed, but instead were pocketed and sold to a third party.
"In deference to the US Attorney's investigation, we are not in a position to comment at this time,"
Tiffany spokesman Carson Glover told ABCNews.com.
Lederhass-Okun appeared in court Tuesday and was released on her own, but must produce $250,000 bail by July 9 or return to jail. In the meantime she must surrender her passport and her travel is restricted to Connecticut and the great New York area.