Shinola thief strikes deal after stealing 500 watches
A former Shinola watch company worker who stole at least 500 timepieces and sold them on the black market struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors Tuesday.
Judith Walker, 41, a one-time model employee who was featured in media coverage about the company’s Detroit operations and efforts to hire residents, pleaded guilty to wire fraud stemming from thefts that cost Shinola more than $358,000.
U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara could sentence her on May 9 to more than two years in federal prison and order her to pay restitution.
The plea came three months after Walker was charged with wire fraud because she sent a text message while negotiating the sale of a stolen Shinola watch, according to court records.
Walker’s theft dates to 2015 and continued through January 2017, prosecutors alleged.
Walker worked as a quality inspector and had access to watches that had been returned to Shinola. It was her job to determine if a watch could be sold immediately or repaired.
In early 2015, Walker started to steal the returned watches, according to her plea deal. She kept some of the watches but sold the vast majority, court records indicate.
In a text message, Walker negotiated the sale of one Shinola watch in December 2016. The watch cost $2,800 but Walker was selling the timepiece for $1,100.
“Tell your boy I have another pink one with the diamond...” Walker wrote, according to her plea deal.
She created a scheme to defraud Shinola that involved stealing hundreds of watches. Walker resold the watches and kept the money, according to the court records.