Missing Rothstein Ponzi diamond located
Updated On: Sep 12 2012 01:39:16 PM EDT
And you thought the 12.08 carat Ponzi diamond ring was a big deal.
Authorities are searching for a round 8.91 carat diamond that Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein bought in 2008 that is worth about $800,000.
The twisting story of that diamond -- known simply as "the 8.91" -- is told in an amended complaint filed in the Rothstein bankruptcy case by attorney Pat Scott, who is representing defendant JR Dunn Jewelers.
JR Dunn sold the 8.91 to Scott Rothstein in 2008 for $610,000. At about the time of his arrest, Rothstein "parted with ownership" of that diamond and two others, both in excess of four carats, according to the complaint.
There is no indication that Rothstein's wife, Kim Rothstein, who has been charged with conspiracy in connection to the disappearance of more than $1 million in her husband's Ponzi treasure, is tied to this case.
It wasn't until April of this year that the three diamonds resurfaced when a Sarasota jeweler named Kareem Suwaity purchased the three diamonds from "a man in Miami who insisted on being paid in gold bullion, but asked for only $370,000 in payment, a mere fraction of their wholesale value."
The "man in Miami" has not been identified and it's not known how he came to hold the Ponzi diamonds.
The complaint alleges that Suwaity "did not obtain the seller's fingerprints and signature or other information on a second-hand dealer's form required by Florida law, and did not hold the diamonds for 14 days before re-selling them."
Suwaity's company, AKMS, partnered with a Detroit jeweler named Anthony Aubrey, of Birmingham Estate & Jewelry Buyers, to then sell the diamonds to a Maryland jeweler, Weinreb Diamonds, at a 60 percent mark-up, according to the complaint.
"Aubrey agreed that Birmingham would provide the gold bullion for each transaction, more than 13 pounds of gold that Suwaity would carry from Michigan to Florida to deliver to the Miami man," the complaint alleges.
Weinreb then quickly resold the diamonds again, including "the 8.91 in just a few hours to J.B. International, LLC for a 69 percent markup."
J.B. International is a New York City jewelry house owned by Jonathan Birnbach, of J. Birnbach Jewelry. The complaint alleges that Birnbach knew the 8.91 was missing at the time he purchased it and also knew that required paperwork designed to prevent money laundering hadn't been completed on the previous transactions.
J.B. International listed the 8.91 for wholesale at $764,478 and still retains ownership of the diamond, according to the complaint, which specifies that the other two diamonds were sold to good faith customers.
I left messages with Birnbach and Aubrey for comment and will update when I hear from them. Attempts to reach Suwaity weren't successful.
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