Johnston jeweler pleads guilty to fraud, identity theft scheme


    Gerald Kent, owner of Kents Jeweler in Johnston, pleaded guilt to two federal, criminal counts. (WJAR PHOTO)<p>{/p}

    A Rhode Island jeweler pleaded guilty on federal, criminal charges on Wednesday morning.

    Gerald Kent, 52, pleaded guilty to defrauding a finance company of more than $3.6 million, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

    Kent, who lives in Groton, Connecticut, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft after he admitted to sending fraudulent invoices to a Chicago company from Groupon.com and Zulily.com. He faces a total of 22 years in prison, $500,000 in fines and 6 years supervised release.

    The NBC 10 I-Team first broke the story just days after a criminal complaint was filed against the Kents Jewelry owner on July 17.

    The former jeweler, who was investigated by U.S. Secret Service and FBI agents, allegedly created hundreds of invoices and cashed in on nearly $5 million through the online scheme. Those agents obtained video, audio recordings and emails in which Kent allegedly makes references to the crimes.

    According to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee H. Vilker and John P. McAdams, Kent allegedly created hundreds of fraudulent invoices, which were submitted to JD Factors, created and used a fraudulent clone of Groupon, Inc.’s website, had others pose as Groupon employees and opened bank accounts in the names of Groupon and Zulily, Inc. to deceive the Chicago company into believing it was receiving payments from the two online retailers.

    Court records revealed the wife of reputed mobster, the late Alfred “Chippy” Scivola was an incorporator of Kents Jewelry.

    Kent is slated to be sentenced on March 9, 2018.

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