Thursday, May 28, 2009

North Naples Jewelry Store Owner Arrested

The owner of a North Naples jewelry store has been arrested after he bought diamond rings, gold chains and other jewelry after being told by the sellers that the items were stolen, according to sheriff’s reports.

Deputies arrested Lawrence Klein, 44, 87 East Ave., North Naples, on Tuesday and charged him with three counts of dealing in stolen property and three counts of secondhand dealer violations.

Klein is also facing multiple state charges accusing him of failing to pay state sales tax.

The arrest was the result of a Collier County Sheriff’s Office investigation into allegations that Klein was dealing in stolen property while operating as a secondhand dealer out of his business, The International Diamond Exchange, 6355 Naples Blvd.

Arrest reports gave this account of the arrest:

On April 16, Klein bought two silver-gold watches and one gold diamond bracelet for $200 from a seller who indicated to him that the jewelry had been stolen. He never completed secondhand dealer forms or fingerprinted the seller, as required under Florida law.

On April 23, Klein purchased gold jewelry for $390 from a seller who told him the items were stolen. He never completed secondhand dealer forms or fingerprinted the seller.

On Tuesday, an undercover investigator entered the store and showed Klein three gold chains and three diamond rings. The deputy told Klein that the jewelry had been stolen from the Fort Myers area the night before.

Klein did not ask the investigator for any ID or for a fingerprint, as required under state statute, and proceeded with the transaction, weighing the jewelry and chemically checking the items for authenticity.

When Klein started to calculate the dollar amount he was going to pay the investigator, deputies arrested him.

At the time of his arrest, deputies also served Klein with a warrant from the Florida Department of Revenue charging him with 20 counts of refusal to pay or file sales tax returns, two counts of failure to file tax returns and failure to remit sales tax.