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New precious metals law passed;DA rebuts gold dealers’ claims

By Fritz Mayer
March 21, 2012

The Sullivan County Legislature on March 15 held a public hearing on a new law that regulates the second-hand sale of jewelry, gold and other precious metals. With the price of gold soaring and the recession still hurting, thefts of jewelry from private homes have spiked in recent months.

William Cuttita, who said he was representing Malek Gold Buyers in Bloomingburg, presented a couple of concerns. One was the 15-day holding period that gold buyers would have to observe before selling any merchandise they purchased. He said that Orange and Ulster counties have seven-day holding laws, and that the 15-day period would cause people to leave the county to sell their jewelry.

Another concern was that the price of precious metals fluctuates so much that the 15-day period would cause buyers to give less money to sellers because they would have to be cautious about a drop in the market.

Cuttita was also concerned about the provision that requires the buyer to transmit the information about the seller to the district attorney’s office. “Some people who sell their stuff are embarrassed; they’ve fallen on hard times. I think that’s kind of an issue,” he said.

Another buyer testified and reiterated the same concerns.

District Attorney Jim Farrell, however, who requested the law, rejected those assertions. He said the Orange County holding period is 15 days. He also said the concern about paying customers less because of concerns of a falling market did not reflect reality. “What we have seen, in terms of things that have been recovered, is they’re paying 20 cents on the dollar, 30 cents on the dollar—they’re paying nowhere close to market value. So when they talk about a spread in terms of a loss, I don’t know that that’s realistic in terms of what’s going on in the real world.” He added, “Police need that 15-day window in order to recover stolen property before it’s melted down.”

As to the issue of transmitting the sellers’ information to the county and the privacy issue, Farrell said, “We’re not interested in prying into the private lives or obtaining data on folks. We’re interested in the thieves who are transacting private precious metal, gems and gold stolen from homes in this community.”

Lawmakers unanimously voted to adopt the measure called "A Local Law Regulating Second Hand Precious Metal or Gem Dealers for the County of Sullivan."