Criminal and civil charges are being brought against the operators of Somerset County jewelry shops as the result of a joint cash-for-gold undercover sting called “Operation Somer Gold.”

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The announcement came today from acting State Attorney General John Hoffman, Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano, and State Division of Consumer Affairs Director Eric Kanefsky.

Undercover investigators visited a total of eight cash-for-gold shops. They brought items of jewelry and offered to sell them at the stores, while watching to see if the jewelers followed state laws intended to protect consumers who seek to sell their precious metals as well as laws intended to protect against the sale of stolen goods.

As a result of the probe, the owners of two shops now face criminal charges. Highland Park resident David Rubin is charged with third-degree receiving stolen property, and with third- and fourth-degree attempted receipt of stolen property. He allegedly was found to be knowingly in possession of property that had been stolen during residential and commercial burglaries.

South Plainfield resident Michal Khalaf is charged with second-degree conducting unlawful credit practice. After receiving a gold item from an undercover investigator, he allegedly attempted to pawn it at an annual interest rate of over 300 percent.

“New Jersey’s cash-for-gold laws remove an avenue for burglars who profit by stealing precious items from law-abiding citizens,” said Hoffman. “They also protect consumers who make the difficult decision, often during hard economic times, to part with their jewelry in exchange for cash.”