Suit: Stolen jewelry was melted too soon after sale to Gold Guys

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 15, 2012 - 10:03 PM

A Rice County couple and a St. Paul woman have discovered they have something in common: Their stolen jewelry was sold to the Gold Guys at the Mall of America and it was melted down within 14 days, despite a state law requiring a two-week holding period.

Bruce and Laura Vind, of Lonsdale, and Alicia D. Menchaca of St. Paul are suing the Gold Guys to recover the value of the jewelry.

On Thursday, Hennepin County District Judge Susan Robiner heard arguments on the case. She will decide whether to accept the Gold Guys' argument that a Bloomington city ordinance waives the holding period, or the argument of the Vinds and Menchaca that the city's ordinance doesn't trump state law.

In September, the Star Tribune reported on the Bloomington ordinance, unique among 11 major metro cities, that waives the holding period for precious metal dealers like the Gold Guys. In exchange, the dealers must take other measures to document their purchases, but one Apple Valley woman said that didn't deter a thief from selling her stolen jewelry to the Gold Guys, who melted most of it down within 24 hours.

In a Thursday hearing, Brett M. Larson, an attorney for the Gold Guys, said the Vinds' case should be dismissed because the business was in full compliance with the Bloomington city ordinance. The state allows municipalities to set up their own rules regarding precious metal dealers, Larson argued, saying that Bloomington's ordinance is more strict than the state's 14-day holding period because of video and other documentation requirements.

Michael B. Lammers, who represents both the Vinds and Menchaca, argued that a waiver by the city of its own holding period doesn't also waive the state's holding period.

If the Gold Guys had held onto the jewelry for at least 14 days, both the Vinds and Menchaca could have gotten their jewelry back, Lammers said.

According to a court document filed by the Vinds, the stolen jewelry, four antique gold rings, were valued at $4,220. Menchaca's gold necklaces were valued at more than $5,000, Lammers said.

The Vinds and Menchaca took their cases to Hennepin County conciliation court and won judgments, but the cases were appealed to district court.

Jane Friedmann • 612-673-7852

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