Worker accused in $12-Mil gold theft

April 29, 2009 9:32:27 PM PDT
The vault manager at one of the country's largest affordable fine jewelry manufacturers slowly siphoned off about $12 million worth of gold by concealing small amounts in the lining of her pocketbook, prosecutors said Wednesday. Teresa Tambunting, 50, of suburban Westchester County, has been charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. She was released Tuesday on $100,000 bail and her attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Tambunting worked for Jacmel Jewelry for nearly 28 years and was given the vault manager job in 1991. Among her responsibilities: Monitor the vault where gold and finished jewelry were stored.

The company discovered in January that nearly $12 million in merchandise was missing. After an investigation began, Tambunting wheeled a suitcase containing 66 pounds of gold worth about $868,000 into the Jacmel office, prosecutors said.

A search of her home turned up an additional 450 pounds of gold, and the thefts occurred between January 2004 and earlier this week, prosecutors said.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said investigators are looking into whether more was taken from the company.

"With gold trading at nearly $900 an ounce, the defendant is accused of establishing a virtual mining operation in Long Island City," Brown said.

Jacmel Jewelry Inc. was founded in 1977 and is one of the country's largest manufacturers and distributors of affordable fine jewelry, according to the company's Web site.

The company employees more than 1,000 people worldwide and is headquartered in the Long Island City section of Queens. It makes jewelry with gold, pearls, diamonds and sterling silver.


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