FBI agents last week arrested two Manhattan Diamond District businessmen and 10 other people in an alleged conspiracy to hijack Federal Express trucks they believed contained millions of dollars worth of diamonds.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office said in a complaint that Brian Greenwald, president of Doppelt & Greenwald Diamonds, and Roni Amrussi, of diamond wholesaler Davidov & Amrussi, helped organize the armed robbery of a FedEx truck in December 2007 and a thwarted holdup planned for last Thursday. Authorities were able to stop the robbery based on information gathered over 12 months from surveillance, wiretaps and two cooperating witnesses in the 2007 case.
Authorities said in the first robbery, a pair of gunmen hijacked the FedEx truck they believed contained diamonds and kidnapped the driver. The thieves, however, could not unload the tractor-trailer’s contents, abandoned it in Brooklyn and released the driver. None of the truck’s containers were missing or open when police found the vehicle.
Amrussi’s attorney had no comment. Attorney Murray Richman, whose office represents Rivera and Greenwald, said both would plead not guilty at a hearing set for today.
In the latest case, authorities said they arrested members of the crew who were to take part in the robbery shortly before it was to happen. Three of the suspected gunmen had arrived from Puerto Rico. The arresting officers found a 9 mm. pistol in the Chevrolet Trailblazer in which the suspects were traveling near a FedEx facility on Manhattan’s West Side.
Authorities said Greenwald helped plan both hijackings with Amrussi and an acquaintance, Hector Rivera. Law enforcement officers arrested Greenwald and Amrussi near their Manhattan homes and Rivera near his home in Queens. The three men have been charged with conspiracy and robbery, which carry potential 20-year prison sentences. Rivera and Amrussi face additional firearms charges, which could result in life imprisonment. The nine other alleged conspirators face similar charges.
In the federal complaint, investigators also detailed a three-year-old robbery at Doppelt & Greenwald, in which they believe Greenwald was involved. Authorities said in November 2005 two gunmen dressed as FedEx deliverymen held up the company’s office at 580 Fifth Avenue and fled with about $4 million to $5 million in diamonds.
Greenwald filed an insurance claim that is still being investigated, naming Amrussi as the owner of some of the stolen goods. Authorities said Greenwald has failed two polygraph tests in that investigation and refused a third to be administered by police.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast