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Former Tiffany & Co. executive gets prison term for jewelry theft

Crime, Law and JusticeTheftCrimeMen's Wearhouse Inc.Tiffany & CompanyDarien (Fairfield, Connecticut)

A former executive with Tiffany & Co. has been sentenced to one year in federal prison for stealing jewelry worth $2.1 million from her employer and selling it.

Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, who worked 25 years at Tiffany and became its vice president of product development and design, pleaded guilty in July to interstate transport of stolen property.

She admitted stealing about 165 pieces of jewelry, including diamond bracelets, diamond earrings, platinum diamond rings and platinum and diamond pendants. The thefts, which occurred over several years, were discovered after Lederhaas-Okun was laid off in February.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe imposed the sentence, despite a plea for leniency from Lederhaas-Okun's attorney, who said she has already paid dearly for her crime. The former executive was also ordered to pay $2.1 million in restitution to Tiffany.

"Ingrid has lost everything: her husband, her job, her prospects for a job, her home, and faces a largely empty future," attorney David E. Patton said in a sentencing brief.

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Patton blamed the thefts on a "psychological imbalance" that he said was related to difficulties with her marriage and her career and left her with a "pathological desire to help others."

"Ingrid did not need the money," her attorney said. "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. The risks did not pay off."

Federal prosecutors have said they intend to recover some of the $2.1 million through the sale of a home that Lederhaas-Okun and her husband, Robert Okun, own in Darien, Conn. The home is listed at $4.4 million. The couple is in the process of divorcing.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Crime, Law and JusticeTheftCrimeMen's Wearhouse Inc.Tiffany & CompanyDarien (Fairfield, Connecticut)
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