A lawsuit claims that Rick Davis, owner of Rick Davis Gold and Diamonds, for years bought stolen items from a woman who, along with her husband, was burglarizing homes on Lookout Mountain.
The Chancery Court suit, filed by Louisa C. Hurst of Payne's Chapel Road, Lookout Mountain, Ga., also said the well-known precious metals dealership does not keep required records of purchases.
The suit also names Jamie Graham, a Rossville woman who authorities said admitted she had been breaking into homes on Lookout for the last three years with her husband, Keith Graham.
Ms. Hurst said her home was burglarized on Jan. 24 sometime between noon and 3 p.m. She said Walker County Detective Jeff Herpst took a report of several items of jewelry that were in two jewelry boxes. The burglar also took two Herend china figurines.
The suit says Ms. Hurst designs jewelry and several of the pieces were custom designs. It says many of the pieces were family heirlooms "and irreplaceable," including a large platinum ring with diamonds that belonged to Ms. Hurst's great-great grandmother.
Detective Herpst went to several establishments that buy gold and silver, including Rick Davis Gold and Diamonds on Brainerd Road. He said he spoke with "Jason," the store manager, and asked if he could identify any of the items taken from Ms. Hurst.
It was found that items matching some of those taken in the burglary had been sold to Rick Davis Gold and Diamonds by Jamie Graham, the suit says.
Detective Herpst located Ms. Graham and she "confessed that she and her husband, Keith Graham, had burglarized residences on Lookout Mountain, Tn., and Lookout Mountain, Ga., for more than three years," it was stated.
The suit says under Tennessee law those who deal in antique, used or scrap jewelry and precious metals are required to keep a log of all items of jewelry and precious metals purchased, to include the color, precious metal type, content and weight; gemstones, including the number of stones; and any other identifying or unique marks.
It says such description shall be clear and accurate.
The suit says the identified items from the Hurst burglary in the Davis log "have no unique nor accurate description" and the descriptions are listed simply as "rings," "necklace" and "bracelet."
The complaint, filed by attorney Buddy Presley, also says that dealers are suppose to hold jewelry for 20 days and are not allowed to melt it down during that time period.
The suit says Ms. Graham either went into the Hurst home or her husband did. Keith Graham died two days later at the age of 37.
Ms. Graham said many of the items taken from the house were sold to Rick Davis. She said she dealt regularly with Davis because he paid the most money.
She said Davis told her that the platinum ring was a fake and handed her $50 when, in fact, the ring is worth more than $20,000, it was stated.
The suit says the Davis list mentions rings and sterling silver, "but none of the items have been returned."
It says Davis maintains that "he does not have any other items when in fact his unsatisfactory list states that he purchased stolen rings from Ms. Graham."
At one point Davis said, "How about we find you one more piece," it was stated.
The complaint says Davis "has not kept any of the property separated and has not held the items for the 20-day statutory required time period." The 20-day period was up on Wednesday.
Ms. Hurst has obtained a restraining order from Chancellor Frank Brown blocking Davis from disposing of any of her items.
The suit says Rebecca Shelton of the Chattanooga Police Department cited Davis for failure to maintain the records and items and he paid a $250 fine.
The complaint says Davis "has informed authorities that he either has lawful ownership and refuses to return the jewelry or that he is no longer in possession of such jewelry in violation of statutory requirements to maintain the inventory for 20 days."
It says, "Ms. Graham has sold numerous items to Mr. Davis and said that he was her first choice for purchases of stolen merchandise over the last three years.
"Davis's records lack the statutory requirements and he continued to purchase items from Ms. Graham with knowledge and complicity of her lack of ownership. A reasonably prudent man would investigate the continued involvement of Ms. Graham in very expensive jewelry and the purchase of such jewelry.
"The lack of detail required under the statute violates the duty owed to Ms. Hurst which would have enabled her to readily identify her property as the right owner. Davis purposefully and with intent did ignore and confuse the matter by not providing any detail of the jewelry or pictures of the purchases so as to comply with the statute.
"Davis did purposefully and with intent state that such items were without value when in fact he knew the extraordinary value of such items for the purpose of benefiting from the resale of such items for extreme profit.
"Davis has worked with Ms. Graham over the years in purchasing high-dollar stolen items and has benefited from the resale of such stolen items with knowledge that Ms. Graham was without resources for such long period to validly purchase such items legitimately."
The suit asks damages for fraud and misrepresentation as well as the return of the Hurst property.