May 3, 2005
Michigan Jeweler Sentenced for Swapping Stones
A Paw Paw, MI, jeweler accused of replacing diamonds with fake stones in rings brought in for repair or resale was sentenced May 2 to seven months in jail and five years of probation in Van Buren County Circuit Court, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Randy Block, 43, also was ordered by Judge William Buhl to pay victim restitution. Van Buren County Prosecutor Juris Kaps said that amount approaches $80,000, but he expects Block to contest the figure and ask for a restitution hearing.
Block, who owned Block Jewelers, pleaded guilty to a charge of larceny by conversion in February. Block's defense attorney Michael Hills, of Kalamazoo, said the courts will have to determine appropriate restitution. "We are not contesting that restitution is owed," said Hills. "We intend to pay complete restitution. It's a question of what is an accurate amount."
Michigan State Police said Block began replacing diamonds from customers' rings with created moissanite. Police launched an investigation in December 2003 after a woman became suspicious about a diamond ring Block returned to her after he was unable to sell it for her.
The woman, who was not identified by police, had the ring examined by another jeweler, who informed her the stone in the ring was not a diamond, according to police. Then last May another woman approached police after she became suspicious about a ring she had repaired at Block's store. She also had another jeweler confirm the stone in her ring was not a diamond.