A Queens woman and four employees of Saks Fifth Avenue have been charged with allegedly using stolen customers’ credit card information to purchase high-end shoes and pocketbooks and then reselling the goods on the black market, Manhattan prosecutors said Monday.
Prosecutors say Tamara Williams, 37, of Queens, was at the helm of the alleged ring that netted more than $400,000. Manhattan prosecutors said Williams obtained the social security numbers and birth dates of Saks shoppers and would then allegedly relay the information to four store employees. Authorities said the employees would use the stolen information buy luxury goods that Williams picked out, including boots that fetch upwards of $2,000.
The four employees, Jason Chance, 25, of Valley Stream, Kriss Rockson, 46, Alaia Harrison, 21, and Michael Knight-Williams, 44 — all of Queens – pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon at their arraignments at Manhattan Criminal Court. Chance’s lawyer, Joshua Horowitz, said his client worked as a personal shopper in the men’s department and that he was being charged with processing transactions. He said Chance denies any criminal wrongdoing and expects to be exonerated of the charges. Horowitz declined to say if Chance knew Tamara Williams.
At a news conference in Lower Manhattan, District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., said prosecutors were tipped off by Saks Fifth Avenue management and launched an investigation that led to the arrests made a few days ago. Authorities estimate the group was able to walk away with hundreds of pairs of designer shoes and pocketbooks. Many of the items were recovered when investigators executed a search warrant at Williams’ home. Representatives for Saks could not immediately be reached Monday afternoon for comment.
Prosecutors said Williams had also allegedly hired “shoppers” to impersonate the Saks cardholders to obtain the goods in the store. Three of the shoppers, Maxine Kerr, Rudolph Murrizzi, and Krystal Kipp, are accused of collecting the merchandise and prosecutors said they would meet Williams at various locations in Queens to pass off the stolen goods, which would then be sold on the black market. The three, who have been arrested, have all pleaded not guilty to separate criminal charges for their alleged involvement.
Williams remains jailed on $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond, while Rockson is being held on $500,000 bail with a $250,000 bond alternative. Harrison and Knight-Williams ignored questions from reporters as they left court Monday. Chance did not comment.
The five are due back in court on Oct. 30.