Detroit—Joseph Gregory DuMouchelle, a jewelry buyer, auctioneer and appraiser with decades of experience, was sentenced to a little over 12 years in federal prison last week after pleading guilty to wire fraud.
The case against DuMouchelle, the 61-year-old owner of Joseph DuMouchelle Fine & Estate Jewelry Buyers, Sellers, Appraisers and Auctioneers in Birmingham, Michigan, was filed in federal court in Detroit in November 2019
The original criminal complaint outlined two situations involving alleged wrongdoing on DuMouchelle’s part, but he pleaded guilty to wire fraud
involving just one jewel—a 77.12-carat VS2 natural fancy vivid yellow diamond known as “The Yellow Rose.”
The scheme involving the Yellow Rose began in late 2018, when a man named Thomas Ritter, whom DuMouchelle knew through family, contacted the jeweler to collect on a $430,000 debt.
Instead of paying, DuMouchelle offered Ritter an opportunity he claimed would make him more money. He could buy the Yellow Rose for $12 million, sell it for $16 million and the two would split the profit.
To trick Ritter into believing the investment was legitimate, DuMouchelle instructed him to wire transfer the $12 million into an account he claimed belonged to the seller.
But, “as DuMouchelle well knew and intended, the wire transfer instructions were to his own account. After the client unknowingly wired the money into DuMouchelle’s account, DuMouchelle quickly withdrew the funds and used them to pay his personal and business debts and expenses,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan said in a news release about DuMouchelle’s sentencing.
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U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith sentenced DuMouchelle to 151 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
It was part of his plea agreement that other victims of his fraud scheme and their losses would be used to calculate the amount of time he could potentially serve as well as the amount of restitution he owed.
Goldsmith determined DuMouchelle owes $25.2 million in restitution. The court also ordered him to forfeit the $12 million from the Yellow Rose fraud.
DuMouchelle’s attorney, Gerald Gleeson II of Miller Canfield in Detroit, declined to comment on the sentencing.
“This defendant defrauded investors by convincing them he was buying and selling rare jewelry for big profits,” said James A. Tarasca, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division.
“Instead of actually conducting those transactions, DuMouchelle used the victims’ money to help maintain his expensive lifestyle. The success of this investigation is the result of a strong partnership between the Birmingham [Michigan] Police Department and the FBI’s Detroit Metropolitan Identity Theft and Financial Crimes Task Force.”