January 14, 2000
Diamond Treatments at Issue in Fraud Case
The filling and irradiation of diamonds are among the grounds for fraud charges against a Palm Beach, FL, jeweler who went on trial in Miami Jan. 8.
Jack Hasson is accused of having cheated customers such as golfers Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman of at least $80 million by passing off stones that were fake, flawed, filled, painted or irradiated. If convicted, Hasson could get up to 65 years in prison and $162 million in fines. Longtime employee and codefendant Clifford Sloan could face up to 30 years and $160 million in fines. Hasson's lawyer said the case was essentially the result of one millionaire's "buyer's remorse."
According to the Associated Press, Norman testified he paid Hasson $48,875 to make a diamond pin shaped like his shark logo. Norman later learned the pin, which he gave to his wife, Laura, had been irradiated to bring out the color in its blue, orange, green, black and pink diamonds. "She didn't want to continue to wear it," said Norman.
Prosecutors allege Hasson lied to millionaire customer Aben Johnson about doing business with, among others, the Sultan of Brunei and having his store manager's brother pose as a sheik, hire women to pose as a harem and arrange for men to play their bodyguards. Johnson said he bought jewel after jewel from Hasson, including a 24-ct. cubic zirconium worth $141 that the jeweler dubbed actress Carol Lombard's "Howeson Blue." Johnson paid $1.5 million for the stone.
Norman, a two-time British Open champion, testified he returned six pieces of jewelry to Hasson for what he paid $385,375 after having them appraised by Harry Winston's jewelers in New York City in 1997.
- by Mark E. Dixon