Receipts and other evidence show that the operator of a San Luis Obispo jewelry store received stolen property when he purchased two pieces of jewelry for much less than their actual value, a prosecutor argued Wednesday.
Deputy District Attorney Karen Gray gave her opening statement in San Luis Obispo Superior Court to begin a trial against 57-year-old William Roger McBurney.
McBurney has pleaded not guilty to accusations that last year he bought a stolen diamond ring worth about $20,000 for $204 and a stolen piece of sapphire jewelry valued at $4,500 for $132.
Gray argued that McBurney made the purchases without a pawn license at a family-owned business, All That Glitters, which was then in the Madonna Plaza in San Luis Obispo.
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“He’s a jeweler with 30 years of experience who knew that the jewelry he bought was stolen,” Gray said in court. “He knew that because of the ridiculously low amount he paid for the items.”
McBurney’s lawyer, Ilan Funke-Bilu, told Judge Michael Duffy that he’s reserving his opening comments until later in the trial.
McBurney previously told The Tribune that the allegations against him are separate from the store and are unfounded, adding that “it is all coming out in court.”
Gray said that the evidence she’ll present will show that receipts and the items of jewelry that Atascadero police investigators found at the store reveal that McBurney made the purchases.
The diamond wedding ring was reported stolen from an Atascadero woman’s car, and the sapphire was taken from the home of another victim, Gray said. Three people have been convicted in connection with the thefts, according to Gray.
Gray said other jewelry stores in the county have obtained licenses that allow them to buy jewelry and that protect against sales of stolen jewelry.
The licenses require them to notify police of purchases, get fingerprints from sellers and wait 30 days to resell items.
Gray said McBurney wanted a competitive advantage and never obtained a license.
During jury selection, Funke-Bilu advised potential jurors not to let any burglaries they may have experienced in their lives cloud their judgment about a fair verdict.