UPDATE, FEB. 4, 4:30 P.M.: Do you spell that name “Lior” or “Liar”?
Lior Bitton, who owns a Westminster jewelry store, accepted a plea deal today that had him declaring his guilt to falsely reporting a 4.21-carat diamond had been stolen and fraudulently collecting more than $99,000 from his insurance company. In exchange, the 37-year-old Los
Angeles resident was sentenced to five days in jail, 90 days of home confinement and three years' probation.
Oh, and he must pay back the $99,000 to the insurance company, Berkley Asset Protection, which will get the recovered diamond.
UPDATE, DEC. 2,2010, 9:20 A.M.: Earlier this year, Westminster police arrested 36-year-old Los Angeles jewelry-store owner Lior Bitton, who was accused of fraudulently
collecting more than $99,000 from his insurance company after falsely
reporting a 4.21-carat diamond stolen.
Now, the Orange County district attorney's office has announced the charge against Bitton: one felony count of insurance fraud, which could fetch five years in state prison. The announcement of Bitton's Friday arraignment follows . . .
December 1, 2010
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
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.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 17, 2010, 8:45 A.M.: Jeweler Lior Bitton should change his name to Liar Bitton, according to Westminster Police.
36-year-old owner of Los Angeles-based gem wholesaler Pacific Diamonds
& Gems was arrested for allegedly inflating the loss he suffered
after one of his couriers was robbed in January in Westminster.
in the $256,000 pinching of diamonds Bitton reported to his insurance
company, Berkley Asset Protection of New York, was a 4.21-carat diamond
with a retail value of $99,000.
However, during their
investigation, detectives were able to determine that particular diamond
was not in Westminster at the time of the robbery.
The alleged inflation of the loss made detectives wonder if there
had been a robbery at all. But further investigation revealed that such a
crime did occur. The courier was near Bolsa Avenue and Weststate
Street around 7 p.m. Jan. 7 when six armed thieves wearing
dark-colored hoods confronted him and took his jewels without hurting
him. No robbers were apprehended.
“This type of
crime happens periodically to jewelers who travel with gems to show
to jewelry-store merchants,” explained Officer Van Woodson in the Westminster P.D. statement on Bitton's arrest.
The second alleged crime happened when Bitton filled out his insurance claim. Working with the Gemological Institute
of America and the federal Interstate Theft Task Force, Westminster
detectives learned that Bitton had traveled to Israel and given a jewel merchant there the 4.21-carat
diamond to get its value appraised.
“By checking the 'fingerprint' of
the diamond, investigators were able to determine this was the same
diamond Bitton reported as stolen to WPD and to his insurance
company,” Woodson states. “By knowingly doing so, Bitton was committing a theft by
After interviewing Bitton at his LA
office on March 25, a Westminster Police detective and FBI agent placed
him under arrest. He was booked into Orange County Jail on the charge of
filing a false claim to receive payment. He made bail, awaits a
preliminary hearing and maintains his innocence.
The courier was not arrested.