Society

Tiffany Exec Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun Faces Year in Prison For Jewelry Thefts

| by Allison Geller

It all started with a pendant.

Former Tiffany & Co. executive Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun was sentenced to a year in prison for stealing more than $2.1 million in jewelry from the luxury brand, in a case that has perplexed and fascinated followers trying to pin a motive on the successful VP.

Lederhaas-Okun, 47, began working at Tiffany in 1991, rising to vice president of product development. She was taking home $360,000 a year from 2010 to February of 2013, when she was a victim of mass lay-offs at the famed jewelry retailer.

Only then did the company begin to suspect Lederhaas-Okun of stealing— a practice that she began in 2005 and continued all throughout her time at Tiffany, “checking out” and reselling pieces to an international dealer.

"I can't express my remorse enough," Lederhaas-Okun said in a Manhattan federal court Monday.

While prosecutors had urged a 46-month sentence and the defendant’s lawyer asked for only six months, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe sought a compromise that would address the “magnitude of the crime” without being “excessive.” He sentenced Lederhaas-Okun to a year and a day behind bars, to be followed by one year of supervised release, on one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. She will also have to pay $2.11 million to the government and $2.24 to Tiffany.

The judge found it hard to identify a clear motive for Lederhaas-Okun’s repeated thefts, calling her actions “difficult to explain." She and her ex-husband reportedly earned a total of $900,000 annually and lived in a $4 million house in Connecticut, so money clearly wasn’t the problem.

Lederhaas-Okun previously claimed to be depressed about not having children.

“It was big part of her unhappiness, her inside breaking,” said Lederhaas-Okun’s public defender, Sabrina Shroff. “It’s a huge disappointment for a woman [not to be able to have children].”

She also attributed her depression to being skipped over for a promotion. Her work environment became unbearable after, she claimed.

Lederhaas-Okun’s sad case seems to have disproven the adage that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

Sources: MSN, New York Post