A former Cambridge jeweler, who once counted Hollywood actors and a former president among his customers, was arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles nearly 10 years after fleeing to India after being accused of defauding banks out of millions of dollars.
Raman Handa, 67, a former Lexington resident and owner of the high-end Alpha Omega Jewelry chain, was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport after getting off a plane from India, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Boston.
Handa was charged with 12 counts of wire fraud in a 2011 indictment unsealed Wednesday in Boston, prosecutors said in a statement.
He is scheduled to appear Friday in US District Court in Los Angeles. His first court date in federal court in Boston is not yet known, the statement said.
Handa is accused of scheming to defraud his company’s former lenders, the statement said.
Alpha Omega Jewelers, which specialized in fine watches and jewelry, opened in Harvard Square in 1980. The business later opened stores at the Prudential Center in Boston, and at shopping malls in Burlington and Natick.
The small chain’s A-list of customers included former President Bill Clinton and Hollywood actors Ben Affleck and Eva Longoria.
But Handa, a fixture on Boston’s charitable and social scene, soon ran into financial troubles. In 2007, from May to December, the business could not keep up with payments on loans it had with several banks, prosecutors said.
Handa is alleged to have developed a scheme to defraud lenders by fabricating inventory reports that were used by banks to determine a credit limit for his business. The reports included luxury watches and other items made by India-based vendors that Alpha Omega did not possess, the statement said.
Handa and his family abruptly left the US on Dec. 15, 2007. After Handa’s departure was discovered, Alpha Omega’s lender took control of the company, reviewed its inventory, and discovered more than $7 million in missing or unaccounted for inventory, according to the US Attorney.John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.