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A former executive from Tiffany & Co. was sentenced to one year and one day in prison on Friday for stealing more than $1.2 million in jewelry from its famous Fifth Avenue location, a crime that a judge called an inexplicable act of self-destruction by someone who didn't need the money.
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun had pleaded guilty this year to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. Her lawyer had asked for a sentence of six months while the government sought at least three years.
'I'm very sorry for everything that's happened,' a tearful Lederhaas-Okun told the judge before hearing the sentence in federal court in New York City.
'I can't express my remorse enough.'
U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe rejected prosecutors' arguments that the 46-year-old defendant was motivated by greed, noting that she came from a privileged background, made $360,000 a year at Tiffany and lived in a $4 million house in upscale Darien, Connecticut.
A month after her arrest in July, Lederhaar-Okun put that home on the market, and it's still for sale.
Her attorney claimed that she suffered from depression and cracked under the pressures of not being able to have children, getting passed over for a promotion at Tiffany and seeing her marriage crumble.
But Gardephe said it was impossible to know what set Lederhaas-Okun on a path of 'self-destruction which could only have one outcome - disaster'.
Lederhaas-Okun, 46, had sold on the luxury jewellery, passing it off as her own
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun (right), a former executive at Tiffany & Co, covers her face as she and her attorney leave court in New York, today. She has been sentenced to a year in jail
Luxe lifestyle: A month after her arrest this past July, Lederhaas-Okun put her Darien, Connecticut home on the market for $4.4million
Outfitted: The 5-bedroom Connecticut manse is extravagantly decorated
Side business: During the trial, it was revealed that the Tiffany exec resole some of the jewelry for $1.3million. Above, a view of her state-of-the-art kitchen
He also said she deserved more than six months because of how long the thefts went on and the fact that she tried to resell some of the jewelry.
'This was not a crime of impulse,' he said. 'The defendant made many bad decisions over many years.'
As vice president of product development, Lederhaas-Okun had authority to check out jewelry from Tiffany to provide to potential manufacturers to determine production costs.
Authorities alleged that after she left Tiffany in February, the company discovered she had checked out 164 items that were never returned.
The items included numerous diamond bracelets in 18-carat gold, diamond drop and hoop earrings in platinum or 18-carat gold, diamond rings in platinum, rings with precious stones in 18-carat gold, and platinum and diamond pendants.
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun pictured departing Manhattan Federal Court after her arraignment on July 2
Manhattan icon: Shoppers walk past the 5th Avenue flagship store of Tiffany where Lederhaas-Okun stole hundreds of thousands of dollars of jewellery
When confronted about the missing jewelry, Lederhaas-Okun claimed that she had left some of it behind at Tiffany and that some had been lost or damaged, according to a criminal complaint.
But an investigation found that Lederhaas-Okun resold some of the goods to an unidentified international dealer for more than $1.3 million. Other items were found in her home.
Bank records showed that since January 2011, the dealer wrote 75 checks to her or her husband for amounts of up to $47,400, the complaint said. Investigators also recovered purchase forms signed by Lederhaas-Okun that said the items were her personal property.
Authorities alleged Lederhaas-Okun purposely checked out items valued at under $10,000 apiece to avoid detection. The company takes a daily inventory of all checked-out items worth more than $25,000.
Little blue box: The former VP pleaded guilty to stealing 164 pieces of Tiffany jewellery in her role as head of merchandise
According to Lederhaas-Okun's LinkedIn profile, she attended Georgetown University in D.C.
She was a vice-president at Tiffany until March this year when she was let go as part of 'downsizing' after 22 years with the company.
Lederhaas-Okun was arrested in July following an investigation by the FBI. A month later, she put her $4million home on the market and it's still currently for sale.
She described her role as 'responsible for all aspects of $150M designer business' at the high-end jewellery brand.
Her husband Robert Okun is a hedge fund manager and a former executive director of UBS financial services.