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Jeweler Headed to Jail for Scheme Targeting Military Families

He was charged with felony conspiracy to engage in illegal financing and debt collection practices.

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A California jeweler has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for a scheme targeting military families.

Ramil “Randy” Abalkhad, owner of Romano’s Jewelers, was charged with felony conspiracy to engage in illegal financing and debt collection practices targeting sailors and Marines in San Diego.

4 Dead After Jewelry-Store Robbery Leads to Police Chase and Shootout (Video)
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4 Dead After Jewelry-Store Robbery Leads to Police Chase and Shootout (Video)

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Truck Slams Jewelry Store in $200,000 Burglary — Watch the Video

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Video: How to Achieve a $100,000 Day in Your Jewelry Store

Abalkhad was sentenced to three years of felony probation, including a requirement that he serve 90 days in jail. Abalkhad will also be required to pay restitution to victims and to cancel outstanding debts owed by those victims.

Co-defendant Melina Abalkhad, who was previously sentenced, will be required to complete a misdemeanor diversion program for her role in operating Romano’s affiliate, MBNB Financial.

“Mr. and Mrs. Abalkhad thought they could get away with targeting our young men and women in uniform,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Today’s sentencing should send a clear message to them and others looking to commit predatory crimes against our service members.”

According to a press release from the attorney general’s office, Romano’s had several retail locations in California, including stores near Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. The stores allegedly targeted young Marines and sailors, some fresh out of boot camp, encouraging them to buy jewelry for themselves and for their families and loved ones on credit.

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According to the criminal complaint, Abalkhad failed to provide legally required disclosures about monthly payments, interest rates or others terms of financing. Those customers who fell behind on their payments were allegedly harassed by the defendants’ debt collectors. In addition, the complaint alleged that Romano’s used debt collectors who falsely posed as attorneys and illegally threatened servicemembers with court martial and other military disciplinary actions.

The California Department of Justice filed a 14-count felony complaint charging Abalkhad with conspiracy to violate the Unruh Act, which protects consumers who buy goods or services on credit, and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protects Californians against unlawful debt collection practices.

A third defendant, MBNB employee Ramiro Salinas, was also charged with conspiracy to engage in unlawful debt collection. He was sentenced on Oct. 18.

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4 Dead After Jewelry-Store Robbery Leads to Police Chase and Shootout (Video)

2 suspects were killed, along with a UPS driver and a bystander.

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A jewelry-story robbery in South Florida led to a police chase and shootout that left four people dead, The Associated Press reports.

Police responded to a silent alarm just after 4 p.m. at Regent Jewelers in Coral Gables. Officers arrived to find shots being fired, with two suspects still on site, according to AP.

The robbers took off in a truck and shortly afterward carjacked a UPS truck, authorities said. A harrowing police chase ensued, continuing for 20 miles and ending at a busy intersection in Miramar.

When police approached the UPS truck, a shootout erupted, leaving the two suspects dead, along with the UPS driver and a person described as an “innocent bystander” in a nearby vehicle, AP reports.

“We have just began to process the crime scene,” FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro was quoted saying. “As you can imagine, this is going to be a very complicated crime scene.”

A jewelry-store employee was reportedly injured, but it’s unknown whether she was shot. It’s also unknown what, if anything, was taken from the store.

Read more at The Associated Press

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Truck Slams Jewelry Store in $200,000 Burglary — Watch the Video

The culprits left the vehicle at the scene.

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Burglars slammed a truck into a jewelry store in Los Altos, CA, and took $200,000 worth of merchandise, police say.

Marcel Jewelry Design was targeted early Monday morning, ABC 7 reports.

The stolen truck rammed the front window of the store three times, finally making it through. The burglars got out and broke jewelry cases with a hammer. They left after less than a minute.

The truck was left at the scene.

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Jewelers Report Bright Start to the 2019 Holiday Season

Thanks to higher average tickets and solid foot traffic.

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INDEPENDENT JEWELERS ACROSS the country reported a strong start to the 2019 holiday season with one in three saying they were ahead of last year’s numbers thanks to higher average tickets and solid foot traffic, especially on Small Business Saturday.

“Customers started shopping earlier, which is a blessing considering the shorter holiday this year,” said Rick Nichols, owner of Nassau Jewelry in Fernandina Beach, FL.

Dennis Petimezas, owner of Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry in Johnstown, PA, said he noticed some caution among early shoppers but they are “bringing in the big-ticket items when they do make a decision.”

More than a third of the jewelers who answered our first 2019 holiday season mini survey reported an average sale that was in excess of $600, while 37 percent said it was up from last year. Only 9 percent of jewelers said their average ticket was down. Diamond fashion jewelry, particularly diamond stud earrings, was selling well.

While only a small portion of jewelers described the start to the vital holiday period as “disappointing” (12%) or “dismal” (2%) few were getting ahead of themselves. Increased competition, especially from big online retailers such as Amazon, means most jewelers are expecting to put in some long shifts over the next four weeks, while offering extra personalized service. Then there are the vagaries of the weather.

“This is my 45th year and it’s always unpredictable,” said Larry W. Hall, owner of Baker & Baker Jewelers in Marietta, OH. “I have ‘jacked up’ my staff on the attention-to-detail factors, i.e., look into the customer’s eyes often and, anyone walking in is greeted in seconds. I am looking at the security camera to see if we I recognize the customer to possibly greet them by name … ‘Hello, Mary and Jim!’ Happy holidays…’ and I offer to clean their jewelry and now our sales staff has a captive audience to sell to.”

The first 2019 Holiday Season Mini survey was taken by more than 100 independent jewelers who are part of our Brain Squad readers group. We will send out more surveys over the course of the holiday season. Look out for the results each Tuesday.

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