Weschester, NY - U.S. Diamond Thief Caught, Is Also Wanted In Largest Heists In Australia
Where is Steven Spielberg when you need him?
That’s what Moshe Tsitsaushivili, a suspected diamond thief, wants to know after learning today that he may be wanted for one of the biggest diamond heists in the history of Sidney, Australia.
Already suspected of stealing diamonds in five U.S. states, [reported by VIN News] the 41-year-old jeweler buried his head in his hands this afternoon when shown a report that he may also be wanted for a $1.5-million heist in New South Wales.
“My life is over, man,” he said during an interview at the Westchester County jail, where he’s being held for a 1989 theft in Yorktown. “My life is over, finished, done.”
He said he has only one hope, that Spielberg would make a movie about him, starring him. He asked a reporter to contact the Academy Award-winning director, saying he wants to share everything about his life of crime. He said he’d use proceeds from the movie to pay off all of his victims.
“Contact Steven Spielberg,” he pleaded. “He would be my ticket out of here; so I can pay all these people back, so I could make a lot of money and never touch diamonds again.”
Tsitsaushivili admitted to the U.S. thefts during an interview last week, but refused today to comment on the Australian heist in 1997 that eclipsed all of them.
Westchester County police said they believe he had spent time in Australia during his 18 years as a fugitive, but haven’t confirmed his involvement in that case, which was described on a crime site on the Internet.
Local police have notified Australian authorities that they have him in custody, but have not yet heard back, said county police spokesman Kieran O’Leary.
Tsitsaushivili, a twice-divorced father of two who comes from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, was arrested last month at the U.S.-Canada border near Buffalo.
He had been on the run since the late 1980s, facing arrest for allegedly scamming U.S. jewelry dealers out of tens of thousands of dollars worth of diamonds. Presenting himself as a diamond setter in search of work, he’d walk into jewelry stores, demonstrate his skills, then secretly pocket the stones and walk out, never to be seen again, police said.
He spent nearly two decades traveling between New York City, Israel and Australia, he said.
He said he decided to give his real name during his last trip because he was finally ready to surrender. His goal, he said, was to appease his first ex-wife, who lives in New York, in hopes that they could eventually reunite.
But he said yesterday that his lawyer contacted the woman and she had no interest in talking to him.
“She got remarried and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with me,” he lamented. “But I love her anyway. I always did, for eternity.”
During last week’s interview, he told a story about meeting a Canadian director who offered him a role in a movie about a diamond thief in search of the world’s largest black diamond. He said it was to feature Madonna and involve Spielberg.
Today, Tsitsaushivili stuck to that story, though there is no record of such a movie in the works. At the same time, he appealed for Spielberg to come see him so he could pitch his life story as a movie. This, he said, would be his ticket out of jail.
Of course, he has a few other details to tend to. He is being held without bail on a felony grand larceny charge in the Yorktown case, and is also wanted by police in Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Howard Biffer, owner of the Yorktown store in question, was more surprised than anything else at the arrest of the man accused of scamming his family out of $30,000 to $35,000 in diamonds.
“It doesn’t matter to me if people get caught doing what they’ve done bad. God gets you anyway,” said Biffer, owner of Lourdes Flyfishing and Jewelry in Jefferson Valley. “I knew from the day he did that to our family; I knew one day he’d pay.”
Biffer, 55, just didn’t think it would take 19 years. He followed the pursuit of Tsitsaushivili closely for a few years, but said he grew disgusted that police couldn’t catch him.
Tsitsaushivili is due in Westchester County Court on Dec. 17.
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