Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, Tiffany Exec, Gets Year for Jewelry Theft

Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 06:59 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, a former Tiffany & Co executive, was sentenced to one year in prison Monday after admitting to stealing more than $2.1 million worth of jewelry over several years, which her former employer called "sad and disturbing."

"I can't express my remorse enough," Lederhaas-Okun said in court on Monday as a federal judge handed down the sentence, Reuters reported.

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Prosecutors reportedly pushed for Lederhaas-Okun to be sentenced to up to 46 months in prison. The request, however, was deemed "excessive" by U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, who presided over the case in Manhattan. Gardephe also refused to entertain a six-month prison term suggested by the defense, due to the "magnitude of the crime."

Lederhaas-Okun was sentenced to one year and a day in prison, after which time she would have one year of supervised release. The judge also ordered Lederhaas-Okun to forfeit more than $2.11 million to the government and pay $2.24 million in restitution, an amount sought by Tiffany, Reuters reported.

The 46-year-old Darien, Conn., resident worked for Tiffany & Co since 1991.

According to the defense, the series of thefts began in 2005 with Lederhaas-Okun pocketing a pendant from the high-end New York City-based jewelry store. The former Tiffany’s exec continued her theft in the years that followed, focusing her sights primarily on bracelets, earrings and pendants made of diamonds, platinum and gold, which she would then sell to others and pocket the money.

Arrested over the summer, Lederhaas-Okun pled guilty on July 26 to one count of transporting stolen property in interstate commerce.

Lederhaas-Okun’s thefts went unnoticed because of her position in the company and her ability to write-off the stolen jewelry from the store’s inventory, according to prosecutors. Her thefts were only realized after she was fired as part of a mass layoff in February by Tiffany.

Greed appeared to be the driving factor behind Lederhaas-Okun's motivation to steal, the judge said. Between 2010 and 2012, the former Tiffany’s exec earned an annual salary of $360,000. Her and her husband pulled in between $700,000 and $900,000 a year.

During last week’s court filing, Lederhaas-Okun's lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, argued that the thefts stemmed from a "desperate effort" to compensate for the pain and depression of other life failures in her marriage and at work, Reuters reported.

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"For reasons that can only be explained by a psychiatric illness, Ingrid took huge risks with her life and her freedom each time she stole," Shroff wrote. "The risk did not pay off."

The pair owned a $4.4 million home, which has now been put up for auction because of the debt owed to Tiffany’s. Lederhaas-Okun's husband has also reportedly filed for a divorce.


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