MIDTOWN — One man's trash is another man's treasure.
A security guard at a Midtown jewelry store lifted nearly $5 million worth of diamonds out of a trash can after store workers accidentally threw them out in November, police said.
Wilfred Martinez, 48, found three boxes of diamonds in a trash can after workers at J. Birnbach, at 576 Fifth Ave., “inadvertently” threw them out on Nov. 24, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a Wednesday press conference.
Video from the third floor of the building showed Martinez taking the three boxes, which contained approximately $4.9 million in diamonds, out of the trash can and into a bathroom, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Inside the bathroom, Martinez dumped the diamonds from two boxes into the third box, carried it out of the bathroom and left the building, Boyce said.
Two weeks later, on Dec. 10, J. Birnbach’s owner discovered the diamonds were missing and reported the loss to an NYPD detective, the complaint said.
He told police the safe the diamonds were in had been unlocked and that workers were helping him move from one floor of the building to another when the incident occurred, the New York Post reported.
After he was arrested, Martinez told the detective that a store employee let him know about the missing diamonds on Dec. 10, the DA said.
By that time, he had sold the majority of the gems to a jeweler on the sixth floor of the same building on three separate dates between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, the complaint said.
The detective said Martinez also admitted he still had one large diamond and two smaller diamonds from the boxes, noting he had sent two other diamonds from the haul to be made into a ring, according to the DA.
After his conversation with the detective, Martinez handed over the approximately $3.2 million large diamond, the two smaller diamonds and $10,000 in cash, the complaint said.
“[Martinez] sold them to another dealer in the area for $68,000, so bargain price,” Boyce said at the press conference Wednesday.
Martinez was charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree.
A judge set his bail at $100,000, and he is expected to appear in court on Friday.
An attorney from the Legal Aid Society representing Martinez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.