NEW YORK, April 29 (UPI) -- An employee of a New York jeweler stole 513 pounds of gold from the firm over five years, taking one small piece at a time hidden in her purse, police allege.
Authorities said Wednesday that Teresa Tambunting, 50, of Scarsdale, N.Y., a longtime employee of Jacmel Jewelry, brought a suitcase filled with 66 pounds of gold worth an estimated $868,000 back into the company's office after an investigation was launched in January, The New York Times reported. Authorities allegedly found another 447 pounds of stolen gold at the vault manager's home in February, the newspaper said.
"With gold trading at nearly $900 an ounce, the defendant is accused of establishing a virtual mining operation in Long Island City which siphoned off millions of dollars' worth of the precious metal from her employer," District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in the statement.
"It is alleged that this once-trusted employee carried out her long-term scheme by concealing jewelry and raw gold in the lining of her pocketbook."
She was released on $100,000 bail after being arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday on charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. She is expected to enter a plea May 19.
Tambunting, who had worked at the store for 28 years, faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted.