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Chotin Tragedy

May 5, 1994 6:16 PM  
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Dear Editor, I read your Editorial of April 8th, "The Death

of Ricky Chotin". The kindness and gentleness you expressed

were not unwarranted. However, being removed from the "scene

of the crime" by over one thousand miles, had a definite

"softening" effect on the actual story that should be told. I

would like to relate to you the feelings of those people in the

St. Louis area that knew Ricky. This included his close friends,

clients, business associates, and a multitude of other people.

When Kawin/Chotin was exposed for selling diamonds without

disclosure, I came to know Ricky very well. Ricky would call me

several times each day to discuss how I would handle specific

problems that were arising out of the mess. Ricky confided in me

the events leading up to this financial disaster. Even though

Ricky was President of Kawin/Chotin, he did what the Chairman of

the Board dictated. I truly believe that Ricky did not know that

what he was doing was against the law. He was never told by his

suppliers that disclosure was required. But, when he found out,

he did everything possible to right the many wrongs. He refunded

money to as many people as his bank account would allow. He

replaced "enhanced diamonds" with diamonds of color and clarity

that his customers were told they had originally purchased. He

did everything possible to correct the many wrongs until his

resources dried up. Why? He told me that he did it "because it

was the right thing to do." Did his suppliers come to his aid and

try to help? No. Did other jewelers in the area take advantage of

the situation? Yes. Did some of his customers also take

advantage? Yes. Did the Attorney General of Missouri and the

District Attorney of St. Louis do the job that we the people

elected them to office to do? NO!!! They stood by passively and

watched as circumstances built up and wreaked havoc upon Ricky.

Was Ricky guilty of the charges levied against him? Yes, and he

admitted it. The bottom line is, Kawin/Chotin was guilty of at

least five different kinds of fraud (mail, insurance,

misrepresentation, and the list goes on). This didn't happen

overnight. It took years and years to accumulate to this point.

It evidently became too much for Ricky to handle. Ricky was an

island, with waves lapping at his beaches from all sides. He was

never taught the difference between right and wrong, and he was

looking for "moral support" to help him through this bad

situation. Few people offered him this support and he finally

succumbed to the pressures. I, too, will miss this most

effervescent character. Even knowing what his business practices

were, you couldn't help but like Ricky after you met him. My only

wish is that he would have received the support he was so

desperately crying out for, and, that he would have had the

stamina to go on with his life. You are correct when you say

that this story is of epic proportions. We will never know all

that had transpired before his untimely death. We should,

however, remember Ricky and learn from his mistakes. Reginald F.

Thompson: GG, NGJA, GIA-AA Consulting Gemologist

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