Jewelry Store Employee Took $12 Mil in Gold


New York—The Queens district attorney has filed charges against a Scarsdale woman who is accused to stealing millions of dollars’ worth of gold from her place of employment.

District Attorney Richard Brown said that the woman, 50-year-old Teresa Tambunting, may have taken up to $12 million worth of gold and gold jewelry from Jacmel Jewelry. She worked for the company for 28 years, and had been a vault manager since 1991.

It is unclear exactly when the thefts took place, but authorities believe that they occurred over a six-year time span. They were discovered in January 2009 when an inventory of the vaults was conducted. At that time, the missing merchandise was totaled at $12 million.

Tambunting confessed to stealing the gold, saying that she smuggled it out of the vault in makeshift slits in her purse. Yet after an investigation into the matter following the inventory which revealed the missing gold, she arrived at the company offices with a suitcase that contained about 66 pounds of stolen gold.

The value of that merchandise was valued at about $868,00. In February, law enforcement officials confiscated another 450 pounds of gold from Tambunting’s home.

The company, Jacmel Jewelry, touts itself as one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of popular price jewelry. It employees more than 1,000 people across the world. Its presidents, Jack Rahmey, says he is cooperating with authorities in the case against Tambunting.

Experts say that jewelry is relatively easy to steal, since the only way to detect its theft is to install costly metal detectors and require every employee to remove their belts and shoes when they leave the office – a move which is impractical for most jewelry manufacturers and distributors.

The fluctuation in the market value of gold is complicating the matter, since the prices of the stolen goods vary depending on the rise and fall of gold prices. The company, however, claims it lost between $3 and $12 million as a result of Tambunting’s thefts.

Tambunting was arraigned on charges of first-degree grand larceny and first-degree criminal possession of stolen goods. She was released on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to make an appearance in court on May 19th. If convicted, she could spend up to 25 years in prison.


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