The Williamsville jeweler who had been scheduled for sentencing today on his guilty plea to scheming to defraud at least 89 customers out of $630,000 over a 16-year period by selling them fake diamonds and other counterfeit jewelry will return to court Oct. 6 for further proceedings in the case.
Paul Blarr, 47, pleaded guilty May 9 in Erie County Court to one count of scheming to defraud his victims from 1998 to this past March, as well as to 10 counts of third-degree grand larceny.
After the plea, Judge Michael F. Pietruszka allowed Blarr to remain free on $1,500 bail so he could make arrangements to make restitution before sentencing. He faces up to 50 years in prison.
Blarr has promised to pay restitution to those he sold fake diamonds and jewelry at real diamond prices, prosecutors said.
He also has promised to take care of other victims who left jewelry with him to repair or sell on consignment and who received fake items in return or never got back their items or the money from consignment sales, prosecutors said. If he does not return the items and the money, he could face additional charges, they said.
Charles J. Machese, Blarr’s attorney, said today’s sentencing was adjourned because he is still working with prosecutors and Amherst police in determining the ownership of some of the jewelry in the case and making sure that the items are returned to the rightful owners.
He said he also is working with authorities to determine acccurate values for the jewelry. He said he believes the total value to be signficantly less than the $630,000 that prosecutors allege.
He added that there may be other cases of customers coming forward and alleging that they also were defrauded.
Blarr was arrested March 21 following an investigation by Amherst police into allegations that he was selling phony diamonds and other jewelry through his RSNP Diamond Exchange and Amherst Diamond Exchange.
In publicizing the arrest, Amherst police asked customers to check the authenticity of any jewelry they bought from Blarr and to contact police. Eventually, almost 200 former customers contacted detectives, police said.