Jewelry store employee stole $12m in gold piece-by-piece in her purse

By Calvin Palmer

Little by little a New York woman stole $12 million in gold from the jewelry manufacturer where she worked.

Teresa Tambunting, 50, has been charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. She was arraigned today at Queens Criminal Court and released on $100,000 bail.

Prosecutors say she took gold piece-by-piece from Jacmel Jewelry in Queens by hiding it in the lining of her purse.

The theft came to light in January when the company audited its Long Island City headquarters vault and discovered $12 million in inventory missing, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The thefts began in 2004 and since that time Tambunting had amassed 450 pounds of gold in the Scarsdale home she shares with her husband and three children.

The gold was stored in 5-gallon buckets in the basement.

Police are puzzled as to how her husband, Edgardo Tambunting, did not know about what was going on. No charges have been brought against him.

When Tambuting got wind of the audit, she started bringing the gold back. She arrived at work in early February dragging rolling luggage bags filled with some of the booty, her boss said.

“The first time, she returned one bag with eighty pounds of fine gold. Then one week later she came back with another bag,” said Jacmel president Jack Rahmey.

“She confessed she had been stealing for some time,” he said.

Rahmey said she was fired after she admitted stealing.

Police believe Tambuting will argue that she has some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
 
Tambunting had worked for Jacmel for 27 years and worked her way up to a salary of $165,000 a year. She became a vault manager in 1991.
 
If convicted she faces up to 25 years in prison.

[Based on reports by the New York Daily News and newsday.com.]

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