Maryland man fakes blindness to steal $9K diamond ring from Downtown Pittsburgh jeweler, police say
Employees of a Downtown jeweler told Pittsburgh police that Taurus Centaur robbed them blind.
The accused con artist wore dark sunglasses, used a cane and pretended to be sightless to fool employees of a Downtown jewelry store in what Pittsburgh police say was an elaborate scheme to steal a diamond ring worth nearly $9,000 from Goldstock Diamonds on Liberty Avenue.
Centaur, 47, of McHenry, Md., faces felony charges of theft by deception and forgery and is suspected of crimes in seven states from Georgia to Ohio.
Using the name Joseph Carroll, Centaur called Goldstock in February and explained that he is blind and needed to find a jeweler he could trust to help him purchase an engagement ring for his girlfriend, according to a criminal complaint.
Centaur told a store employee that he lives in Atlanta and a friend recommended Goldstock to him, police said.
He said he wanted a diamond certified by the Gemological Institute of America, and that it should be a 1.33-carat round diamond with a 14-carat white gold setting, police said. He said he would pay the $8,934.50 price when he flew into town the next day.
Employees at Goldstock told police that a well-dressed man wearing a long leather jacket, brown leather shoes and black sunglasses and carrying a cane came in the next afternoon, Feb. 11, and identified himself as Joseph Carroll. He did not show them identification in the two hours he spent in the store, but he handed over a cashier's check for the full amount and walked out with the diamond and setting, police said.
A few days later, Goldstock learned the cashier's check was a fake.
Employees there declined to comment on Wednesday.
Detectives received an alert in March from the Western Maryland Information Center, a network of law enforcement agencies in Frederick and Washington counties, Md., with a photo and description of Centaur. State police said in the alert that he used fake cashier's checks to buy diamond rings, electronics and vehicles, and is suspected in crimes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Georgia.
A mug shot of Centaur included with the center's alert shows him wearing what appear to be prescription eyeglasses with transparent lenses.
Police put the photo of Centaur in a photo array and showed it to Goldstock employees. They picked his photo as the man who left with the ring.
He is being held on another charge in the Bartow County Jail in Georgia, according to an online jail roster. Authorities there did not return a call.
Police said Centaur goes by several aliases. Records show he has no criminal convictions in Pennsylvania.
Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, said prosecutors plan to extradite him to face charges in Pittsburgh.
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Outbound 376 reopened after man on exit sign caused closure
- Unidentified body found in Stowe
- Limited North Shore tailgating time yields success
- Allegheny County may send Pittsburgh HR complaints
- Mother, son displaced by West Mifflin fire
- Tall ship makes return voyage to Presque Isle
- August Wilson Center’s financial woes leave little guys in a lurch
- Newsmaker: Kara Petro Montgomery
- Carnegie Mellon University picks architect for business school
- Despite PSU-Central Fla., Dubliners slow to embrace American football
- Uber and Lyft say they’ll rely on PennDOT inspections for safety