June 19, 2008

Saks Saleswoman Accused of Jewelry Theft

A former saleswoman at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York is facing charges she stole more than $1 million in jewelry from the lavish store, court papers show.

Court documents show 51-year-old Cecille Villacorta is facing 25 years in prison for allegedly working with 229 customers in a credit card scheme involving the store's expensive jewelry, the New York Post said Thursday.

The district attorney's office has alleged in addition to stealing more than $1 million from Saks, Villacorta kept at least $50,000 in commissions she had not earned through proper sales.

Villacorta's lawyer, Chad Seigel, has countered such allegations by describing his client as a hard-working saleswoman who was caught up in a computer misunderstanding.

Seigel has accused Saks officials of manufacturing the criminal case as a way to fire one of the store's highest-paid employees, the Post reported.

Our defense at trial will be that because she generated the level of sales that she did, which produced high commissions for her, it benefited Saks to get rid of her but retain her customers so she can't take them with her, Seigel said Wednesday.