BOSTON – The former owner of a well-known Boston-area jewelry chain, Alpha Omega Jewelers, has been arrested in Los Angeles after living abroad for almost 10 years following a scheme to defraud the company’s former lenders, U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston said in a statement.
Handa, 67, formerly of Lexington, MA., was arrested on Tuesday, Feb 21, 2017, at Los Angeles International Airport as he returned to the United States from India where he had been living for almost 10 years.
A 2011 indictment unsealed charges Handa with 12 counts of wire fraud. Handa was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. His first court date in the U.S. District Court in Boston, where charges were filed, has not yet been scheduled.
According to the indictment, Handa was the owner of Alpha Omega Jewelers, a fine watch and jewelry retailer in the Boston-area. From May 2007 to December 2007, Alpha Omega experienced severe financial troubles, and had difficulty keeping current with loans it had with several banks. As part of the scheme to defraud Alpha Omega’s lenders and in order to obtain additional loans, Handa allegedly fabricated inventory on reports that were submitted to the banks. These reports were used by the banks to calculate the credit limit for Alpha Omega, and included inventory such as luxury watches and high-end items from Indian jewelry vendors, that Alpha Omega never in fact possessed.
On Dec. 15, 2007, Handa and his family abruptly left the United States. After discovering Handa’s departure, Alpha Omega’s lender took control of the company and conducted a detailed review of Alpha Omega’s inventory. According to the indictment, the review revealed over $7 million dollars in missing or unaccounted for inventory.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years supervised release and a fine of $250,000 on each count. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi de Llano of Weinreb’s Economic Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.