A panel of Fourth District Court of Appeal justices Wednesday reversed a burglary conviction and sentencing-enhancement allegation for a former Newport Beach jeweler, who ripped off customers with fake or reduced quality gems.
Charles Jayson Hanson, 55, was sentenced in January of last year to six years and four months in prison. He was convicted in October of 2016 to first-degree residential burglary and multiple counts of grand theft.
The justices sided with Hanson that he was wrongly convicted of burglary since he had already started his theft before entering the home of a client as part of the ongoing scheme to rip them off with a fake gem. The justices also ruled that jurors erred in finding true a sentencing enhancement allegation of theft exceeding $100,000 because the estimated loss was based on multiple victims instead of the victim named in the burglary count.
The justices ordered that Hanson, who is currently serving his time, be sentenced again.
His victims included a married couple who were neighbors and friends of Hanson and did business with him in September 2013, according to the ruling. Court documents stated that they wanted a setting with diamonds added to a gold band.
They paid Hanson $16,000 to do the job, but he had a “worthless cubic zirconia center stone” placed on a “platinum band already containing small clusters of diamonds all the way around plus two channel diamonds set on either side of the center stone,” according to the ruling.
“When the jeweler questioned the reason for putting a worthless stone in an expensive band, Hanson assured him it was what the customer wanted,” the justices wrote in the ruling. “The jeweler estimated Hanson spent $2,500 making a ring having a retail value of $7,500 because the center stone was cubic zirconia.”
Another jeweler in Newport Beach told the couple in January 2014 about the fake stone. When confronted, Hanson said, “I won’t leave you hanging,” the justices wrote.
Hanson pulled the same trick with a cubic zirconia center stone on another customer, who did not learn of the fraud until several years later when he had it cleaned, the justices wrote.
Someone else found out when he took his wife’s wedding ring in for cleaning that the diamond he thought was added was actually Moissanite, a stone that appears to be a diamond, the justices wrote.
Another customer and his daughter picked out a diamond for his wedding anniversary, paying $48,918.50 for the ring that the wife later found to be set with Moissanite and worth just $5,900, the justices wrote.
Yet another customer asked for a resetting of diamond stud earrings worth $1,549.50. She later “learned the diamonds had been replaced with Moissanite stones,” the justices wrote.