Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
February 4, 2011
Susan Kang Schroeder
JEWELRY STORE OWNER TO PAY $99,000 IN RESTITUTION FOR FRAUDULENTLY COLLECTING INSURANCE ON 4.21 CARAT DIAMOND
FALSELY REPORTED STOLEN
WESTMINSTER – A jewelry store owner was convicted today for fraudulently collecting over $99,000 from his insurance company after falsely reporting a 4.21 carat diamond stolen. Lior Bitton, 37, Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to one felony count of insurance fraud and was sentenced to 3 years of formal probation, five days in jail, and 90 days of home confinement. He was also ordered to pay $99,000 in restitution. The court ordered the 4.21 carat diamond be returned to the insurance company.
Bitton is the owner of Pacific Diamonds and Gems jewelry store in Los Angeles. On Jan. 7, 2010, one of Bitton’s employees was robbed in Westminster of 20 diamonds. Bitton filed 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 he reported stolen, Bitton accepted over $99,000 from his insurance company.
In March 2010, Bitton traveled to Israel, met with a diamond wholesaler, and provided 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 will be returned to Berkley Asset Protection.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart of the Major Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.