MOUNT DESERT, Maine — A local woman is facing charges in Connecticut that she stole nearly $200,000 worth of designer clothing and antiques from a former friend, according to police.
Many of the allegedly stolen items seem to have been resold since last summer out of a consignment shop the woman owns and operates in the local village of Somesville, police said Thursday.
Dianna Brochendorff, 62, turned herself in to police in Bantam, Conn., at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Trooper Kelly Grant of the Connecticut State Police. Grant said Brochendorff appeared in Bantam Superior Court at 10 a.m. Wednesday on a charge of larceny in the first degree.
A court clerk in Bantam said Thursday that after her appearance, Brochendorff was released on $50,000 bond. She said Brochendorff is scheduled to appear back in court on April 6.
Brochendorff is accused of stealing $196,768 worth of items from a former friend who has homes in New York City and Kent, Conn., according to a written Connecticut State Police summary of the incident. In 2000, Brochendorff offered to let the friend store the items at Brochendorff’s then-home in Salisbury, Conn. Police say the friend was unable to get Brochendorff to return the items when she later asked for them back.
“I made continuous demands to Ms. Brochendorff for return of my belongings and was continuously assured both via e-mail, by telephone, and in person that my belongings were safe and kept in her house,” the victim told police, according to an affidavit filed in a Connecticut court.
Last month, in an effort to recover some of the allegedly stolen items, police executed a search warrant at Brochendorff’s Main Street apartment in the village of Northeast Harbor and at the Somesville Consignment Shop. In Brochendorff’s apartment, they found and seized five items of clothing with an estimated total value of $13,050, according to police.
At the consignment shop, police recovered a vintage clutch handbag with an estimated value of $1,350. Police also seized sales invoices from the shop for items sold by Brochendorff that they believe had been stolen from her former friend. The sales receipts indicate the items were sold for a total value of $3,388, but police say the owner estimates the total value of those same items to be between $73,800 and $141,800.
On file in Ellsworth District Court is a list of items the victim claims she left with Brochendorff. The items include three antique lamps, two antique crystal caviar dish sets, two large silver picture frames, and a set of 12 Venetian glasses. All of the listed antiques date from 19th century Italy and Russia.
Also on the list are more than 80 individual items of clothing. Among the clothes listed are dresses by Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren; jackets designed by Giorgio Armani; and a suit designed by Valentino. Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Karan, Gucci, Moschino, Burberry and Oscar de la Renta are among the designers whose clothes are on the list.
According to an affidavit on file in Ellsworth District Court, after receiving repeated demands to return the items, Brochendorff told the victim she had put them in storage with a commercial company in Torrington, Conn., without the victim’s permission and could not get it back because of overdue storage fees. She allegedly told the victim she was trying to pay this bill so she could return the items.
In August 2008, Brochendorff moved away from Salisbury without leaving any forwarding or contact information for the victim, according to police. About a year later, the victim found a weekly newspaper article online indicating that Brochendorff had opened the consignment shop in Somesville.
Brochendorff wrote a $10,000 check to the storage company to pay the overdue fees and another check for $2,500 to have the company deliver the items to the Somesville shop, the affidavit indicated. The $2,500 check later was returned to the company by a bank due to insufficient funds, police said.
Brochendorff opened the consignment shop last year in a Route 102 building formerly occupied by the A.V. Higgins Store.
Mount Desert Police Chief James Willis said Thursday his department has been aware of the investigation for more than a year. He said Brochendorff, who used to live in Salisbury, Conn., has lived in Northeast Harbor for at least a few years.
In a separate case, Brochendorff also has been ordered to pay $23,415 to Bar Harbor Bank & Trust after the bank won a judgment against her in 2006 in Ellsworth District Court. Documents on file in district court do not indicate what the judgment was for.
On two occasions, Brochendorff has failed to appear in district court for subsequent disclosure hearings, including one that had been scheduled for March 1 of this year. On March 3, Brochendorff wrote a letter to the court indicating she had missed the hearing “because of illness.”
The disclosure hearing on the $23,415 judgment against Brochendorff has been rescheduled for April 5, according to district court documents.