Doris Payne, 83, Pleads Guilty to Another Instance of Stealing Diamonds

On Monday, April 28, 83-year-old Doris Payne pled guilty to one felony count each of burglary and grand theft for an October jewelry theft, the Washington Post reported.

At an upscale jewelry store in Palm Desert, Calif., Payne made off with a $22,500, 3.5-carat diamond-encrusted ring. The carat originated as a natural unit of weight: the weight of the seeds of the carob tree. Diamonds were traditionally weighed against these seeds; however, the weighing system was later standardized, with one carat fixed at 200 milligrams (1/5 of a gram). Payne had been out of prison for about three months, according to the Washington Post.

Judge William Lebov sentenced Payne to four years in custody: two in a county jail and two under mandatory supervision, according to the Los Angeles Times. The maximum penalty would have been six years.

Gretchen von Helms, one of Payne’s lawyers, said Lebov’s sentence was “a thoughtful response” considering her client’s age and ailments.

“The judge tempered punishment with compassion about her age,” von Helms told the Los Angeles Times. “He took into account the taxpayers’ pocketbook. And do we really need to incarcerate a nonviolent offender — yes, a repeat offender, that’s true — who’s ill, who has emphysema, who’s elderly?”

Payne admitted to having about 60 years of experience as an international jewelry thief; she has used 20 aliases, has been linked to five Social Security numbers and has nine dates of birth on file. She is the subject of documentary “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne.” The documentary’s website said she is “as unapologetic today about the $2 million in jewels she’s stolen over a 60-year career as she was the day she stole her first carat.”


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