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Suspect Pleads Guilty in $500,000 Robbery of Traveling Salesman

Sentencing is set for Aug. 12.

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PITTSBURGH – A resident of Bogota, Colombia, has admitted in federal court to taking about $500,000 worth of gemstones and jewelry from a traveling salesman.

Oscar Javier Rodriguez Roa, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate federal robbery laws. Roa had been extradited from Colombia to Pittsburgh.

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In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Roa was a member of an organized South American theft ring that targeted traveling jewelry salespersons in the U.S. and elsewhere.

On May 5, 2013, Roa and his accomplices drove from Lawrenceville, GA, to Western Pennsylvania in a rented car to set up the heist, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

On May 8, 2013, in Wexford, PA, Roa and his three accomplices accosted a traveling jewelry salesman from New York City as the salesman exited his car in the parking lot of a jewelry store, according to the release.

Roa smashed the rear driver’s side window of the salesman’s car, reached inside the car, and stole a black shoulder bag containing gemstones and jewelry. The other robbers punctured the rear driver’s side tire of the salesman’s car, kept an eye on the salesman, and drove the Nissan Maxima getaway car.

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Flight records showed that Roa fled the United States on May 16, 2013, by boarding a flight in Houston, TX, destined for Bogota.

“This prosecution should send a message to would-be international criminals, if you commit crimes against Americans, we will find you and you will be brought to answer for your actions in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Scott W. Brady, FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones, and Chief Robert T. Amann of the Northern Regional Police Department.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 12. The law provides for a sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.

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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