Cash, jewelry seized: Police search store, cite Alcoa jeweler
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Authorities seized thousands of dollars in jewelry and cited an Alcoa jeweler with noncompliance of the state’s scrap jewelry laws.
Danny Malone, 49, owner of Malone’s Jewelers, 332 Gill St., was cited Tuesday during a search warrant conducted by the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
The search was the result of multiple complaints that the business was not asking for IDs or supplying transaction information to law enforcement when it purchased scrap jewelry, according to a BCSO press release.
The state law requires a business that purchases scrap jewelry and precious metals to register with local police.
Owners must also ask for a valid identification from the individual they are purchasing from, and hold the purchase for 20 days before reselling it.
They must also report the purchase to authorities by noon of the next business day following the transaction.
The Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division conducted a lengthy investigation and followed up on numerous complaints, often stemming from burglary and theft cases, officials said.
A few days ago, an undercover operative went to Malone’s and verified his noncompliance with the laws, according to the press release.
During the search warrant Tuesday, detectives seized the cash and jewelry, assisted by Alcoa Police Department.
Malone, a jeweler in Maryville for 29 years and having owned his Alcoa store for two years, gave his account of what happened to The Daily Times on Wednesday.
‘Trying to comply’
“It’s a new law, and I was trying to comply and do what they told me to do,” Malone said. “I know how much gold (bigger stores) buy — they buy a whole lot more than I do. I had no idea why they were targeting me.
“It was last Saturday afternoon, and my daughter (Meagan, who also works in the store), who helps greet the customers and that sort of thing, was over here eating lunch,” Malone continued. “I was in the back working, and a lady came in who had a chain she wanted to sell.
“Well, I took the chain and weighed it, and told her what I would pay her for it, and she told me she needed to meet a bill and could I give her more. I went back and recalculated it, and I could do $180.
“To save time, I grabbed the money and said I can do $180 to help you out, and she said thank you and took off out the door. I did not get her license, and that’s all I’ve done wrong.
‘Took my stuff’
“They showed up here and took close to $10,000-$12,000 worth of my stuff that I have had a lot of years. I’ve been a jeweler for 29 years in Maryville, and this is the first time I’ve owned my own store. I used to be out at Green Acres Flea Market, and that’s where I bought a lot of the stuff they took. My concern is they just basically came in and took my stuff.”
Malone and his daughter said they were not sure how they were going to handle the accusations, but are looking into hiring an attorney.
“We are just fighting to get our stuff back,” Meagan Malone said. “I’m usually the one that takes the ID, but he told me to take my lunch break. I’m the one that does all that.”
“Basically I was busy and it slipped my mind,” Danny Malone added. “They’re accusing me of burglary and I didn’t steal anything from anybody. We’re not crooks.
“My main business is doing jewelry repair, design and make it — that’s what I do. The gold buying is a little extra part. We’re trying to do right and do what they told us to do. I slipped and didn’t do it that particular day and that’s basically what it is.”
More charges pending
The Sheriff’s Office said officers have been very proactive with gold-buying businesses. Detectives visit the businesses and provide copies of the state’s gold buying laws, as well as the means of reporting and auditing their purchases. Frequent contact is made with these businesses on a weekly or daily basis to assure the requirements are understood.
Additional charges are pending against Malone, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“When we receive complaints from individuals on these businesses, we do follow up on them,” said Blount County Sheriff James Berrong in a statement. “We go out of our way to make sure these businesses are complying with the laws. If they are not, we will prosecute.”