Texas Retailer Sentenced to Prison for Wire Fraud
Santiago Mora used his business partner’s identity to receive $500,000 in cash advances to pay clients.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, federal Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced 40-year-old Santiago Mora to 27 months in prison, immediately followed by three years of supervised release.
Mora owned half of Laspis Lazuli LLC, which did business as retailer Alku Modern Jewelers in Katy, Texas. A silent partner based in Sandy, Utah, owned the other 50 percent.
According to the release, Mora failed to deliver pre-paid Rolex watches valued at about $3.9 million to a customer.
To pay said customer and others, Mora created and executed a scheme to obtain $500,000 in merchant cash advances via wire transfer by impersonating his business partner and using his good credit.
He eventually admitted the fraud to his business partner.
Mora was indicted in November 2020 but released on $50,000 bond.
As local reports began surfacing about the retailer defrauding additional customers at his jewelry store, the government moved to revoke his bond, court records show.
But Mora didn’t show up for the revocation hearing, and FBI agents arrested him in June 2021 in Miami on a warrant for failure to appear.
He pleaded guilty to wire fraud on March 3.
He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined soon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Mora also was wanted by the sheriff’s office in Fort Bend County, Texas, for first-degree felony theft related to Alku Modern Jewelers.
A local news station aired multiple reports of people who claim they gave Mora money for items they never received, including a man who said he’s out $3,500 for an engagement ring and another who said he paid the retailer $26,000 for two rare Rolex watches that were never delivered.
The sheriff’s office said their investigation has been filed with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s office. No other information was available by press time.
Expected to earn up to $4.5 million, the “Jarretière” bracelet is the star of Christie’s “The Magnificent Jewels of Anne Eisenhower” sale.
With jewelry sales coming down from their pandemic highs, retailers need to do all they can to retain existing customers, Peter Smith says.
Jewelry historians, authors, and experts will explore the works of Tiffany & Co., Oscar Heyman, Verdura, and more.
Distinguishing natural diamonds from laboratory-grown stones – now more available than ever – has been difficult for jewelers. Until now.
Johnson joined the retailer in 1987, establishing its first human resources department.
Supplier Spotlight Presented by IGI
The industry gathered to celebrate those who elevate the jewelry and watch industries.
De Beers Institute of Diamonds provides the very best in diamond verification, education and diamond services.
It highlights Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s lasting influence on modern design.
Jewelers of America’s Amanda Gizzi explores the qualities and accomplishments that make this year’s Gem Award nominees shine.
Here’s what the nine chosen organizations plan to do with the funds.
The designer is nominated for a Gem Award for Jewelry Design.
The jewelry giant’s full-year sales were essentially flat, brought down by fourth-quarter declines.
In its recent results, the company highlighted non-bridal jewelry sales and said its “inventory-light” showroom model may change.
See 15 fabulous pieces from the 2023 Gem Award for Jewelry Design nominees: Anita Ko, Kirsty Stone, and Ron Anderson and David Rees.
The new Cal. E365 movement doubles the running time of the current Eco-Drive models.
The mood among diamantaires is fairly optimistic despite the challenges brought about by sanctions and a cloudy economic outlook.
The mood is bullish as more companies get into the business despite the dramatic drop in lab-grown diamond prices.
Shah talks with National Jeweler about diamond demand, lab-grown, and why it’s difficult to make predictions about the U.S. market.
Hari Krishna Exports and the Dholakia Foundation’s “Mission 100 Sarovar” aims to create 100 lakes to help revive an area of Gujarat.
The educational resource will highlight the positive impact diamonds can make on their journey from mine to market.
Australian mining company Burgundy Diamond Mines announced plans to buy the mine in a deal valued at $136 million.
A 17th-century gold seal ring and an 18th-century memento mori ring met or exceeded estimates at a recent Noonans auction.
They will be recognized at the organization’s annual luncheon this weekend in New York City.
Sherry Smith breaks down the results so far this year, including which categories are the sales standouts and which are struggling.
The 1,000-year-old find is now on display in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities.
More than 200 exhibitors are scheduled for the May 11-14 event.