Former San Diego jeweler Karl Winchell has been charged with 27 felonies for allegedly taking personal property from 12 customers without returning it.
Winchell, who runs Winchell’s Jewelry Design and Repair in La Jolla, Calif., faces 12 years in jail, according to the San Diego district attorney’s office.
Among the charges faced by Winchell: grand theft, fraud, and theft from elder and dependent adults, as many of the alleged victims are elderly.
According to local news reports, a group of customers have accused Winchell of taking pieces on consignment and not returning them, with a few taking him to court and one even protesting outside his store with a sign reading “Karl Winchell stole my $13,000 ring.”
Winchell could not be reached for comment, but his attorney told NBC’s San Diego affiliate that Winchell “paid everyone back with interest” when taken to court.
Detective Sgt. Meryl Bernstein told La Jolla Light that police recovered 47 pieces of jewelry at Winchell’s home that matched those consumers reported missing. “A good 27 to 30 of those 47 pieces I can match up with victims,” she said.
The jeweler, who has run his store since 1975, has closed his store following the allegations, though the store’s website says it is relocating and open by appointment.