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Jewelry Store Linked to Drug Trafficking and $3M Money-Laundering Scheme, Feds Say

36 people have been arrested in the case.

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CINCINNATI – Tri-State Jewelers, a downtown Cincinnati retailer that was raided last week, was linked to drug-distribution and money-laundering networks, authorities say.

A federal grand jury has charged 36 individuals with crimes related to narcotics and money laundering conspiracies in an indictment that was unsealed on Nov. 19.

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Those charged include 22 Cincinnati-area individuals, according to a press release from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Law enforcement agents arrested all 36 defendants late last week and over the weekend.

According to the indictment, beginning in March 2016 and continuing through October 2019, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and cocaine.

The indictment alleges two Cincinnati businesses were used to launder proceeds from the narcotics conspiracy: Tri-State Jewelers on Race Street and Nationwide Automotive on Vine Street. It is alleged that cash was kept stored at both locations. The cash was then allegedly concealed and packaged to be transported to and from the Cincinnati region.

According to the 15-count indictment, between December 2018 and April 2019, defendants stored, at least temporarily, approximately $2.5 million at Tri-State Jewelers.

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For example, Tri-State Jeweler accepted $1,400 in cash for the purchase of a diamond pendant necklace in May 2019, $15,000 for the purchase of a diamond ring in June 2019 and $4,000 for the purchase of a diamond ring in July 2019, the DEA stated.

Also in July 2019, Nationwide Automotive accepted $38,800 in alleged narcotics proceeds for the purchase of a vehicle, according to the release.

It is alleged at least $800,000 was laundered at Nationwide Automotive between November 2018 and April 2019.

Co-conspirators are also charged with maintaining drug premises on Prosser and Glenmore avenues in Cincinnati.

DEA seized more than $500,000 in cash, 19 pounds of fentanyl, 3 pounds of heroin, 100 pounds of cocaine, 42 pounds of methamphetamine, 47 weapons, 12 vehicles, the jewelry store inventory, assorted jewelry belonging to defendants and residences valued at approximately $1.1 million total thus far in the case.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Kate Middleton Shows Off Mysterious New Diamond Ring

Observers of the royal family don’t recognize the piece.

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Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, appeared at a public event last week wearing a piece of jewelry previously unknown to observers of the royal family.

On her right ring finger, opposite the well-known sapphire and diamond engagement ring she wears on her right hand, was a large diamond ring, Town & Country. The occasion was the Diplomatic Corps Reception at Buckingham Palace.

The duchess also wore the Lover’s Knot Tiara, a piece that dates to 1913 and which was favored by the late Princess Diana.

In photos, it’s hard to see the exact design of the new ring. Town & Country writes that it’s “unclear at this point if it is a wholly new design, something from the royal collection, or perhaps existing stones fashioned into something bespoke for Kate.”

Read more at Town & Country

 

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Uncut Gems Features Adam Sandler as a Jeweler and May Be His ‘Best Work Ever’ (with Video)

It hits theaters today.

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Uncut Gems, which features Adam Sandler as a jeweler, hits theaters today, and critics say it might his best work yet.

In a review for Entertainment Weekly, Darren Franich calls Sandler’s performance “loud and meaningful, hyperbolic yet terribly human.”

In the film from Josh and Benny Safdie, Sandler plays Howard Ratner, described on the movie’s official website as “a charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score.”

“When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win,” according to the site.

Franich gives the movie an A-, noting that Sandler “exudes the self-lacerating melancholy familiar from his acclaimed dramatic work in Punch-Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).” In a headline, Entertainment Weekly says the film may be Sandler’s “best work ever.”

The New York Times, meanwhile, rates the movie as a “Critic’s Pick.” Reviewer

Watch the trailer below.

Read more at Entertainment Weekly

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Sales Remain Strong, But Jewelers Moderate Expectations a Bit for 2019 Holiday Season

45% of jewelers in our survey say the season is in line with their projections.

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JEWELERS TEMPERED THEIR expectations for the 2019 holiday season as we entered the second week of December with about one in four store owners telling an INSTORE Mini Survey they had fallen behind target. That compared to just 14 percent who were similarly downbeat following a robust Black Friday opening.

Overall, sales were still strong though. Seven percent of jewelers said they were having a “terrific” season so far, 24 percent said it was better than expected and 45 percent said it was in line with their projections.

“Traffic is up but I was expecting higher traffic as this is our fourth Christmas and have really increased sales over the last year,” said Christopher Sarich, the owner of Noah Gabriel & Co. Jewelers in Wexford, PA.

Tickets continued to be strong with more than a third of jewelers saying their average sale was over $600, while a similar portion of store owners said their store traffic was up over last year (see charts below).

Diamond sales of all kinds — bridal, studs, design, fashion and lab-grown — continued to do well with almost half of the jewelers in our survey citing diamond jewelry as their best-selling item. Custom was also doing well.

“Custom! Everything from scratch to customized assembly,” said Jennifer Farnes, owner of Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO.

Given the overall health of the economy and consumers’ appetite for jewelry, this could also be a good season to move aged inventory, suggested Jill Hornik, owner of Jae’s Jewelers in Coral Gables, FL.

“This is the perfect time for an inventory reduction sale to get rid of old stock. We put over 200 items over 5 years old into our case normally designated for a silver designer, and have made 31 times the revenue we normally would within that same case space.”

The second 2019 Holiday Season Mini survey was taken on Monday by 112 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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