(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/file 2007)
By John R. Ellement, Globe Staff
A former employee of a landmark Boston jewelry store is accused of stealing more than $150,000 in jewelry from the store and replacing diamonds with fake cubic zirconia in two pieces of jewelry set to be sold in Newton, according to a Boston Police report.
Tanya Nichols appeared today in Boston Municipal Court, where she is facing charges of larceny over $250. The 45-year-old Nahant woman did not enter a formal plea and is now scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 9.
As she left the courthouse, Nichols denied to reporters that she replaced the jewels in two sets of diamond studs that were shipped from Shreve Crump & Low's Boylston Street store to its store in the Chestnut Hill Mall last September.
"That's ridiculous,'' she said.
Asked if she had stolen other jewelry, she replied, "Of course not.''
Nichols identified her attorney as Martin K. Leppo of Brockton. Leppo said he would be meeting with Nichols in the next days but declined other comment.
Calls to the Boylston Street store, which was purchased out of bankruptcy proceedings in 2007 by David Walker, were not immediately returned. Walker told the Globe last month he was shutting the Newton store.
In a Boston Police report filed with the court, police describe an internal investigation by the company that was launched after the fake jewelry surfaced in Newton on Sept. 27. The studs with the fake diamonds had been sent to Chestnut Hill from the Boston store, police said.
An internal audit quickly showed that jewelry Nichols was responsible for installing in display cases could not be located, the report said. As the audit progressed, Nichols allegedly started returning jewelry she had previously stolen by pretending to find it inside the Boston store, police alleged in the report.
Nichols was also allegedly videotaped Oct. 2 as she put jewelry in a holding bin at the store, and then pretending to be a customer, called the store and asked if the particular pieces were available, police said. Co-workers would then recover the jewelry, police said.
"The conclusion of the investigation showed that Nichols stole a large amount of jewelry from the store, and when staff discovered that jewelry had been stolen and conducted an investigation, Nichols began returning some of the items to the store,'' the police report states.
Police said in the report that $151,000 in jewelry is still missing.