The “Golden Eye” diamond, which FBI agents seized during a 2006 money-laundering probe involving Paul Monea and Michael "Mickey" Miller, might be sold in January, according to a spokeswoman for the federal marshal's office.
The federal government is sitting on a giant diamond that could fetch millions of dollars when it’s sold.
In May, U.S. District Judge John R. Adams ruled authorities legally could keep the “Golden Eye” diamond — FBI agents seized the stone during a 2006 money-laundering probe, which sent Stark County businessmen Paul Monea and Michael “Mickey” Miller to prison.
The government plans to sell it.
But those plans have been on hold, pending the outcome of a flurry of appeals filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati. Among those appealing Adams’ decision were the Monea Family Trust, which claimed the trust owned the diamond long before Paul Monea tried to sell it to an undercover FBI agent posing as a mouthpiece for drug dealers.
The Golden Eye can’t be sold until all appeals are resolved.
“We’re thinking maybe sometime in January,” said Denise Bortnick, administrative officer of the U.S. Marshals Northern District in Ohio, which handles sales of confiscated and forfeited property.
SELLING AT AUCTION
The marshals office likely won’t sell the diamond in the same manner the agency offers boats or cars. Instead, it’s possible it will offer it through an auction house, such as Sotheby’s, which specializes in rare merchandise and art.
The stone weighs 43.5 carats — a behemoth by diamond standards.
What’s it worth?
The diamond is so unique that it may be difficult to place a conventional value on it, though authorities plan to have it appraised. In the end, pieces like it are worth only as much as someone is willing to pay for it.
When it’s sold, the marshals office will keep 20 percent of the proceeds. The remainder will go to a federal asset-forfeiture fund. Portions could also be divvied to local agencies that assisted in the investigation, such as the Stark County Sheriff’s office.
Miller, now 69, and Monea, 63, were arrested in December 2006, concluding a three-year undercover investigation into their dealings.
Monea, a former millionaire from the Alliance area, had made a fortune by marketing gas-grill igniters for pain relief and pitching tae bo tapes for fitness guru Billy Blanks. It’s unclear how he acquired the diamond.
But beginning in 2005, he started to use the gem as collateral in business dealings.
When the judge ruled the government could keep the diamond, he also denied claims from six others, who had argued that they owned all or a piece of the Golden Eye.
They included Monea’s two children, Blake and Brooke; clay-mining operator Gerald Deleo, who loaned Monea $500,000; David Moore, a New York pastor; and Moore’s Charity Fellowship of Truth Church, which loaned Monea money to buy a house.
Page 2 of 2 - Miller, who had owned several auto dealerships, pleaded guilty to 37 counts of money laundering for using his businesses to help drug dealers as early as 1999. He was sentenced him to 57 months in prison, but already has been released.
Monea tried to sell the diamond and boxer Mike Tyson’s former house in Trumbull County for $19.5 million to the undercover agent. A jury convicted Monea in May 2007 on four counts of money laundering.
He was sentenced to 13 years in prison.