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Thief who finagled Beverly Hills hotel room keys admits diamond heist

A man accused of talking outside the front desk of posh Beverly Hills hotels and leaving with suitcases full of jewelry, shoes and designer dresses admitted Tuesday to stealing a guest’s diamond necklace ‘worth $395,000.

Appearing in federal court in downtown Los Angeles, Jobson Marangoni De Castro pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property. The tall, thin 38-year-old wore a white prison jumpsuit, his gray hair thinning and his goatee streaked with gray.

The victims, identified in an affidavit only as residents of Brazil, traveled to Los Angeles in May 2023 to attend a fashion event, FBI Special Agent Gary Wallace wrote. They packed designer jewelry and clothing into their six suitcases, along with several AirTag tracking devices.

Four days after the couple arrived at the Peninsula Beverly Hills, De Castro had dinner at the bar and charged the bill to the couple’s room, Wallace wrote. It is unclear why De Castro, a Brazilian citizen legally residing in the United States, singled out the couple, who told the FBI they did not know him, the agent said.

Items stolen from guests at a Beverly Hills hotel included a custom Flavia Vetorasso diamond necklace, worth $395,000, and a Chopard L’Heure du Diamant watch valued at $89,400, according to court records .

(U.S. Department of Justice)

The next day, De Castro returned to the hotel, identified himself at the front desk as a guest and said he had left his keys in his room, Wallace wrote. After De Castro was able to answer a few security questions, the employee gave him the key to the Brazilian couple’s room.

De Castro unlocked the door but found one of the guests sleeping inside, Wallace wrote. He left the hotel. After the couple went out to dinner, De Castro returned to their room and wheeled six suitcases into an elevator, according to the agent. With the help of hotel staff, he loaded the suitcases into an Uber and left in the rideshare car, Wallace wrote.

The couple returned about an hour later and went to Beverly Hills police, reporting the theft of some $500,000 worth of jewelry and another $300,000 worth of shoes and clothing, according to the affidavit. Among the stolen items were a custom-made Flavia Vetorasso diamond necklace, Wallace wrote, and an embroidered white silk Chanel dress.

A month after the theft, the victims’ attorney provided Beverly Hills police with an appraisal of the stolen property, estimating the loss at nearly $1.5 million. The diamond necklace was valued at $395,000, while a Chopard L’Heure du Diamant watch was valued at $89,400, Wallace wrote.

Beverly Hills police traced two AirTags in the couple’s luggage to an address on Rodeo Drive across the street from the apartment complex where De Castro lived, according to the agent.

Two days after the suitcases disappeared, De Castro flew to Miami, where he contacted a jewelry seller on Instagram and offered to sell a diamond necklace and watch, Wallace wrote. In an Instagram post, De Castro said he had no papers for the jewelry, which he said belonged to his late mother.

Wallace compared the photos De Castro sent to the seller to those provided by the victims’ lawyer and concluded that they were the Flavia Vetorasso necklace and the Chopard L’Heure du Diamant watch.

De Castro sold one of the pieces — it’s not clear from the affidavit whether it was the necklace or the watch — for $50,000, Wallace wrote. De Castro later thanked the seller, writing, “Will definitely recommend.” I am very happy.”

In his guilty plea, De Castro admitted to transporting “jewelry, including a diamond necklace,” across state lines knowing it had been stolen. He did not plead guilty to another theft described in Wallace’s affidavit.

A man in an elevator with several suitcases

Federal prosecutors said surveillance cameras showed Jobson Marangoni De Castro in an elevator at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, fleeing with stolen luggage.

(U.S. Department of Justice)

Two weeks before checking out the Peninsula Beverly Hills, De Castro met a couple at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel pool. The husband exchanged phone numbers and Instagram handles with De Castro and told her they were staying in room 589, Wallace wrote.

De Castro asked the man if he had dinner plans. When the man said he had a reservation at a restaurant, De Castro told him it would be safer to leave his valuables in his room, Wallace wrote. The man found it odd — the restaurant was in a safe zone — but he and his wife locked their jewelry, passports and cash in the room safe before going to dinner, according to the affidavit.

Citing surveillance footage, Wallace wrote that De Castro convinced an employee to give him the key to room 589 and was seen, 30 minutes later, exiting the lobby with suitcases belonging to the couple.

The couple returned that evening and found their bedroom safe and closets empty, their belongings gone, Wallace wrote. They estimated they lost $36,000 in jewelry and $3,000 in cash.

De Castro was arrested by the FBI in August. His lawyers asked a judge to release him on bail, writing in court documents that he had no criminal history and had never been arrested until this case. He had no desire to return to Brazil, they wrote, which he fled nearly 20 years ago “for fear of being prosecuted because of his sexual orientation.”

De Castro’s mother – who, contrary to her son’s message to the Miami jeweler, is still alive – offered to post bail to secure his release.

Unconvinced, a judge ordered De Castro imprisoned. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced.

U.S. District Court Judge Hernán D. Vera scheduled an April 30 hearing to resolve a dispute between De Castro’s lawyer and prosecutors over the value of the stolen jewelry, which could affect his sentence or any restitution amount .

De Castro’s lawyer, Annick Jordan, declined to comment.

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