Woman accused of $2.1 million jewel theft says ex-fiance framed her – Tampabay.com

Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Palm Harbor millionaire Scott Patrick Mitchell’s tale of soured romance traveled the Internet last Valentine’s Day. He said his jilted fiancee had lifted jewelry worth $2.1 million from his safe.

But was it true?

In newly filed court records, Mary Catherine Hunt and attorney Barry Cohen say Mitchell cooked up the story to get back at her, after she left him.

“I have never been in the safe vault room in Scott Mitchell’s guest house in my life, nor have I ever had a combination,” Hunt said, denying Mitchell’s charges.

Last summer, Mitchell, 45, reported the loss of 99 three-diamond necklaces, 147 gold rings, 172 diamonds and other jewelry after he and Hunt broke up.

She is under attack both in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, criminally charged with grand theft, and in U.S. District Court in Tampa, named with her parents in a $6 million lawsuit in which Mitchell seeks treble damages.

Hunt, 30, initially invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

But now she’s talking.

In a 32-page federal court affidavit, she describes Mitchell as an abusive boyfriend who made false accusations when he didn’t get his way.

“We had a tumultuous relationship and Mitchell was never truly satisfied with me because he could not control me,” she said, alleging that he vacillated between being “lovey dovey” and threatening.

She accused him of editing his security video to set her up, withholding camera angles that might have exculpated her.

Cohen has asked a federal judge to delay trial in the lawsuit for a complete airing of facts.

Mitchell isn’t backing away.

“Our position is we stand firmly behind the complaint,” said his attorney, Todd Foster, promising to file a response to claims he called “incredible.”

Law enforcement opened the theft investigation after Hunt’s father called Mitchell last August to say a UPS shipment of jewelry had arrived at the family’s Virginia home.

Mitchell told Pinellas investigators that he and two other investors bought merchandise from strapped jewelers at discount prices during the 2008 recession, acquiring the gold and gems for about $900,000.

The investigators learned Hunt and her mother had been videotaped at a Tampa UPS Store.

Hunt’s explanation: She was shipping home her computers and sentimental family jewelry. None of it was stolen, she said.

She speculated that her intoxicated father had opened some of the costume jewelry her mother was always ordering, perhaps mistaking a $3.66 “piece of dreck” for something more.

She said she used a fake name at UPS because Mitchell previously told her he had access to the “postal system.” She said he had accused her a year earlier of stealing Rolex watches when she threatened to break up with him.

“I knew I had done no such thing,” Hunt said.

The two met on Match.com in October 2013, she said, and she was swept off her feet.

Mitchell showed her bank balances totaling more than $150 million and insisted that she quit her job, she said. She was a medical sales rep, selling coronary devices for Boston Scientific.

He proposed in December 2013, she said, and she moved in with him the next month.

They were supposed to be married last summer.

Mitchell, who paid $2.6 million for his home on Lake Tarpon, is CEO of Simply Organic, a distributor and manufacturer of professional salon products.

He drew attention in 2008 for launching the website Affluence.org, which he called “Facebook for the filthy rich.”

Contact Patty Ryan at pryan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3382.

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