FROM: Amy Cornell, Public Information Officer   CONTACT PERSON: Amy Cornell, Public Information Officer (408) 792-2997   For release on December 3, 2008   SAN JOSE JEWELER SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS STATE PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING CUSTOMERS   Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jerome Nadler sentenced 60-year old jeweler Gerald Mokma to four years in state prison on Tuesday. Mokma, the former owner of Willow Estates Jewelry in San Jose, pled no contest in September to a charge of grand theft of personal property, and admitted the allegation that he had taken over $200,000 from his victims.  Mokma was ordered by the court to pay varying amounts of restitution to 29 victims.   Mokma was arrested in September after a lengthy investigation by the San Jose Police Department and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation revealed that between July 2003 and September 2008, Mokma stole from his customers using two distinct fraudulent schemes.   Mokma’s first scheme was to misrepresent the quality of jewelry that he sold to his customers, and by means of such misrepresentations to charge high prices for jewelry of low actual value.  For example, Mokma would represent that the diamond contained in a certain piece of jewelry was of a certain type and size, when in fact it was a diamond of lesser quality or a fake made out of glass or cubic zirconium.  In some cases, Mokma would memorialize his false representations by providing his customers with fraudulent certificates claiming to state the properties of the jewelry they were purchasing.  A customer purchasing a piece of jewelry subject to Mokma’s misrepresentations would pay the price of a real diamond, and Mokma would provide the fake, together with the fraudulent certificate.  Many of Mokma’s customers found out about the swindle when they took jewelry purchased from him to independent experts for examination and appraisal.  Some decided to submit their jewelry for independent appraisal after hearing through the news media that Mokma was the target of a criminal investigation.   Mokma’s second scheme was to take jewelry from a customer on consignment for sale or for cleaning, and then would fail to return it to the customer or make payment for it.  In some cases, he would receive a piece of jewelry from a customer, and then replace the higher quality diamond in the jewelry with a lower quality diamond or a fake before returning it.   ###

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