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Former Jeweler Arrested on Fraud Charges

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He had lived abroad for nearly 10 years.

BOSTON – The former owner of a well-known Boston-area jewelry chain, Alpha Omega Jewelers, has been arrested in Los Angeles on fraud charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Raman Handa, 67, formerly of Lexington, MA, was arrested Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport as he returned to the U.S. from India, where he had been living for almost 10 years.

He’s accused in a scheme to defraud the company’s former lenders, according to the Justice Department.

A 2011 indictment unsealed this week charges Handa with 12 counts of wire fraud. He was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Feb. 24. His first court date in the U.S. District Court in Boston, where charges were filed, has not yet been scheduled.

According to the indictment, Handa was the owner of Alpha Omega Jewelers, a fine watch and jewelry retailer in the Boston area. From May 2007 to December 2007, Alpha Omega experienced severe financial troubles, and had difficulty keeping current with loans it had with several banks, according to the Justice Department.

As part of the scheme to defraud Alpha Omega’s lenders and in order to obtain additional loans, Handa allegedly fabricated inventory on reports that were submitted to the banks. These reports were used by the banks to calculate the credit limit for Alpha Omega, and included inventory, such as luxury watches and high-end items from Indian jewelry vendors, that Alpha Omega never in fact possessed.

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On Dec. 15, 2007, Handa and his family abruptly left the U.S., according to the Justice Department. After discovering Handa’s departure, Alpha Omega’s lender took control of the company and conducted a detailed review of Alpha Omega’s inventory. According to the indictment, the review revealed over $7 million dollars in missing or unaccounted for inventory.

The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years supervised release and a fine of $250,000 on each count. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.

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