A Buffalo jeweler who defrauded dozens of customers has been sentenced to 23 to 69 years in jail, a severe term generally reserved for violent criminals, according to local news accounts.
Paul Blarr, the former owner of the Amherst Diamond Exchange, has also been ordered to pay $928,266 in restitution. The sentence means that, even if he accrues “good time,” Blarr will serve a minimum 19 years in jail, according to a report in the Buffalo News.
Even local district attorney Frank A. Sedita III seemed taken aback at the severity of the sentence imposed by Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka.
This “is the most punitive sentence that I have ever seen in Erie County for a white-collar crime,” Sedita told the newspaper. “To put it in its proper context, this is the sentence you will more typically see in a murder case, rape case, or the most violent of felonies.”
In May, Blarr pled guilty to 11 felony counts for defrauding at least 89 customers, for crimes ranging from misrepresenting simulants as genuine diamonds to taking consignment items from customers and not returning them. In one particularly sad case, highlighted at Blarr’s sentencing, the victim was a terminally ill man who wanted one last gift for his family.
Blarr’s attorney told the judge that Blarr maintained a middle-class lifestyle and resorted to illegal measures only to preserve his business and provide for his family.