|For Immediate Release
Case # 10WF2917
December 1, 2010
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
JEWELRY STORE OWNER CHARGED WITH $99,000 FRAUD FOR COLLECTING INSURANCE ON 4.21 CARAT DIAMOND FALSELY REPORTED STOLEN
WESTMINSTER – A jewelry store owner has been charged with fraudulently collecting over $99,000 from his insurance company after falsely reporting a 4.21 carat diamond stolen. Lior Bitton, 36, Los Angeles, is charged with one felony count of insurance fraud and faces a maximum sentence of five years in state prison if convicted. He is being held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday, Dec. 3, 2010, at the West Justice Center in Westminster. The time and Department are to be determined.
Bitton is the owner of Pacific Diamonds and Gems jewelry store in Westminster. On Jan. 7, 2010, one of Bitton’s employees was robbed of 20 diamonds. Bitton is accused of filing a claim with his insurance company for the stolen diamonds, including a 4.21 carat diamond that the defendant had certified with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in September 2009. For the 4.21 carat diamond reported stolen, Bitton is accused of accepting over $99,000 from his insurance company.
In March 2010, Bitton is accused of traveling to Israel, meeting with a diamond wholesaler, and providing the wholesaler with the 4.21 carat diamond he had reported stolen two months earlier. The wholesaler in Israel submitted the diamond to GIA for certification. Using the stone’s unique and distinct properties, similar to a fingerprint, GIA determined that the stone was the same that had been previously certified in March 2009.
The Westminster Police Department (WPD) investigated this case. The diamond was recovered and is in the custody of WPD.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.