Prolific jewel thief Doris Marie Payne pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing a diamond ring from a Palm Desert jewelry store.
The 83-year-old defendant admitted one felony count each of burglary and
grand theft and was immediately sentenced to four years in custody. She will serve half of the time in jail and the other half under supervision, her
Payne, whose lengthy career as an international jewel thief was detailed in a documentary, swiped the 3.5-carat, $22,500 ring last Oct. 21 from El Paseo Jewelers.
Payne had been out of prison for about three months, and was living in a
Riverside motel, at the time of the ring theft. She was on probation for
felony theft in a Los Angeles case when the crime in Palm Desert occurred.
The general manager of El Paseo Jewelers, Rajendra Mehta, testified at
Payne's preliminary hearing last December that the defendant came into the
store on Oct. 21 and said her jewelry had been stolen. She looked at earrings, necklaces, loose diamonds and rings, and tried some pieces on, then said she would return with a cashier's check, Mehta said.
``Did the defendant put that (stolen) ring on her finger?'' Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse asked.
``Yes,'' Mehta said.
He said his bookkeeper told him later that afternoon that a ring was
missing, and an inventory conducted by employees confirmed it.
``Do you know who the last person was with the ring?'' Lofthouse asked.
``Miss Payne,'' Mehta replied.
Employee Jodi Clapinski, who worked in the store that day, also testified she saw Payne try on the ring but did not see her take it.
Michael Jacobs, who worked at his wife's secondhand jewelry dealer
business in Palm Desert, testified that Payne came in the day of the ring theft and said she had a ring she wanted to sell. He said she asked for $1,000, and he gave her $800. Sheriff's deputies found the ring there on Nov. 6.
According to Deputy Adan Yamaguchi, detectives identified the woman in
El Paseo Jewelers as Payne using images captured Oct. 18 in Saks Fifth Avenue in Palm Desert. A store security guard recognized her ``from the company's run- in with Payne in 2010,'' when she was arrested for theft, according to Yamaguchi.
She's been held since then at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $65,000 bail.
In ``The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,'' which premiered in April at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto, Payne says
her ``methodology of stealing jewelry took me all over the world ... New York, Milan, Paris, Rome, London,'' for many years.
Payne's record includes:
-- pleading no contest in June 2011 to stealing a $16,000 ring from a
Santa Monica jewelry store, for which she sentenced to 16 months in prison;
-- a January 2011 conviction for stealing an $8,900 ring from Macy's in
San Diego for which she was given five years in prison; and
-- an April 2010 conviction for stealing a $1,300 Burberry trench coat from a Saks store in Costa Mesa for which she got a year in jail.