MOORESVILLE, Ind - A former Mooresville jeweler charged with defrauding more than a dozen customers with fake gemstones is now accused of writing bad checks.
Morgan County authorities have filed two felony check deception cases against 43-year old Lora Richards, owner of the former “Iconic Brilliance” jewelry store in downtown Mooresville.
The more recent cases come in the aftermath of Richards being charged in May with 33 felonies, including Corrupt Business Influence, Theft, and Delivery of False Sales Document. Those charges followed a months-long investigation into customers' claims that Richards had sold them fake jewelry or replaced genuine gemstones with synthetics.
Mooresville resident, Sally Longoria, says she bought a ring from Iconic Brilliance in January. After hearing some of the claims being made about Richards, she decided to have her ring checked for authenticity. She says the diamonds and ruby in the ring turned out to be fakes.
“She (Richards) kept trying to get me to agree to have the stones replaced,” Longoria said. “And I said I know you’re not going to do that, there’s no way.”
After several months of haggling, Longoria says Richards eventually agreed to write her a refund check for $1500. The check was post-dated for May 2, 2019.
“And I warned her ahead of time,” Longoria said. “I said you realize if you write me a bad check, that’s a crime. And my evidence will be the check.”
Longoria says the check bounced at two different bank branches on two different days.
“At that point, I texted her and we’re done here,” Longoria said. “You’re the police’s problem, I’m out.”
Mooresville police investigated Longoria’s claims and found Richards’ bank account had a negative balance on the day the check was to be cashed. Investigators also found multiple insufficient fund fees within 30 days prior to the check date.
Longoria says her credit card company has reimbursed her for the money she originally spent on the ring, but she says that’s not the point.
“I told her this isn’t about the money, you have hurt people,” Longoria said. “What happened to me is nothing compared to people who have lost their family heirlooms.”
The Morgan County Prosecutors office filed the most recent check deception case against Richards October 17. An earlier check deception case was filed against Richards in May after Ohio-based MJL Wholesale accused Richards of writing them a bad check for $9500.
Richards has claimed MJL Wholesale sent her fake gemstones without her knowledge, and she was unaware she was giving synthetic jewelry to her customers.
In late September, a Morgan County judge granted a motion to withdraw from the case filed by Richards’ attorney.
Richards declined to comment on the more recent charges when reached at her home today.
Richards is scheduled to appear in court on November 8 for the most recent check deception case. She’ll be back in court on November 25 for the other cases against her.