Ramil Abalkhad, the owner of San Diego’s Romano’s Jewelers, and two of his employees have been charged with 14 counts of identity theft.
NBC 7 San Diego reported in December that the jeweler was under investigation by the California Department of Justice for allegedly abusing the automatic payroll deductions, or allotments, of members of the armed services.
This complaint from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office alleges that Abalkhad instructed two employees to use service members’ Social Security numbers to add unauthorized charges to their store credit accounts, which were then deducted automatically from their pay.
The numbers were allegedly provided by a Marine named Kymani Tate in exchange for money and jewelry. Tate was charged in military court and sentenced to 10 months’ confinement, a fine of $2,260, and a bad-conduct discharge.
David Youssefyeh, Abalkhad’s attorney, maintains that his client knew nothing of the scheme.
“I can categorically deny that any owner, or supervisor, of Romano’s had any idea that any of this was going on,” Youssefyeh told NBC 7 San Diego. “In fact, the one Romano’s employee that was identified as being involved with the Marine was fired years ago because of performance issues.”
Abalkhad and Torres are each out on $720,000 bail. Noland has been issued an arrest warrant.
The three face up to 12 years and four months in prison if convicted.