By Swamibu (http://flickr.com/photos/swamibu/1182138940/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Swamibu (http://flickr.com/photos/swamibu/1182138940/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
It turns out you’re not paranoid if you’ve ever been worried that a crooked jeweler might steal diamonds from your rings and replace the stones with fakes while doing work in that back room.

A Newport Beach jeweler who stole diamonds from clients’ rings and replaced them with fake stones has been sentenced to more than six years in state prison.

A jury this fall had already found Charles Jayson Hanson, 53, guilty of one felony count of first degree residential burglary, four felony counts of grand theft and one misdemeanor count of petty theft, according to Susan Kang Schroeder of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The jury on Oct. 25 also found true sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, she said. The prison sentence was handed down Friday.

According to prosecutors, Hanson was commissioned in September 2013 by a neighbor couple with whom he was friends a to upgrade an engagement ring.

“The victims paid the defendant $16,000 and gave him the original ring which contained an authentic diamond,” Schroeder said. “Hanson delayed returning the ‘upgraded ring’ to the victims until Dec. 31, 2013.”

Three days later, the victims had the ring appraised and learned the stone placed in it by Hanson was a cubic zirconium fake.

“When confronted about the fake diamond, the defendant denied having any knowledge as to what happened to the original stone and promised to replace the diamond,” Schroeder said.

Hanson failed to return the ring to the victims, who filed a report with the Newport Beach Police Department, which began an investigation that revealed still more victims who had encounters with the deceitful jeweler, she said.

One was a man who, in November 2012, commissioned Hanson to re-work a family heirloom with an authentic diamond into a new ring.

“The victim paid the defendant $516 and gave him the original diamond ring,” Schroeder said.

“Hanson returned the ‘upgraded’ ring to the victim in December 2012. In November 2014, the victim had the ring cleaned by a different jeweler and discovered the original diamond had been replaced with cubic zirconium.”

Another man purchased a diamond ring from Hanson in March 2013 as an anniversary gift for his wife, who two months later commissioned Hanson to add diamonds to the ring.

“In July 2015, the victim discovered that the `diamond’ was moissanite when he had the ring appraised by a different jeweler,” Schroeder said.

A woman commissioned Hanson in May 2014 to have a pair of diamond earrings re-set. Hanson delayed the return of the earrings until July 2014 and in August 2015, the victim took the earrings to be re-set by a different jeweler and discovered that the original diamonds had been replaced with moissanite.

In June 2014, Hanson was commissioned by a man to set his wife’s engagement diamond into a new setting as a present.

“The victim paid the defendant $1,021, gave him a gold band and the original ring,” Schroeder said.

“In July 2014, Hanson returned the `upgraded’ ring to the victim. In May 2016, the victim had the ring cleaned by a different jeweler and discovered the original diamond had been replaced with moissanite.”

Victim impact statements made at Hanson’s sentencing hearing included one by the man who was his neighbor.

“We were devastated to learn of the defendant’s fraud as we had become friends and had done several social dinners and events together,” the man, identified as David S., said.

“The betrayal by our good friend has a permanent detrimental effect on our once very open and trusting personalities. We now know that the defendant has dozens and dozens of victims over his adult life and routinely cheats his customers who, in many cases, are family friends and acquaintances.”

Another victim called Hanson “the true epitome of a con man.”

“He preys on gaining people’s confidence so they will not suspect his true intentions to steal from them,” she said. “I was especially appalled that he had the nerve to bring my fake diamonds to my home and was especially proud to show them to me.

“Unfortunately, I have lost confidence and trust for those who are in these positions of trust.”

Hanson was sentenced to six years and four months in state prison.

Deputy District Attorney Paulie Fabian prosecuted the case.

–City News Service

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