Hiding the precious metal up his bum.
The case against Leston Lawrence, 35, of Barrhaven concluded in an Ottawa courtroom Tuesday. Justice Peter Doody reserved decision until Nov. 9 on a number of smuggling-for-cash charges, including theft, laundering the proceeds of crime, possession of stolen property and breach of trust.
“Appalling,” was the conclusion of
“This is the Royal Canadian Mint, your
“And here the gold is left sitting around in open buckets.”
Indeed, it was not even the Mint that discovered the alleged
Typically, the pucks weighed about 210 grams, or 7.4 ounces, for which he was given
One day a teller became suspicious
Bank security was alerted, then the RCMP, which began to investigate. Eventually, a search warrant was obtained and four Mint-style
Records revealed 18 pucks had been sold between Nov. 27, 2014 and March 12, 2015. Together with dozens of gold coins that were redeemed, the total value of the suspected theft was conservatively estimated at $179,015.
The Crown was able to show the pucks precisely fit the Mint’s custom “dipping spoon” made in-house —
Lawrence, who has since been terminated, was an operator in the refinery section. Among his duties was to scoop gold from buckets so it could be tested for purity, as the Mint prides itself on gold coins above the 99 per cent level.
The great mystery that went unanswered
(It was not uncommon for employees to set off the detector,
Investigators also found a container of vaseline in his locker and the trial was presented with the prospect that a puck could be concealed in an anal cavity and not be detected by the wand. In preparation for these proceedings, in fact, a security employee actually tested the idea, Barnes said.
Lawrence did not take the stand — as is his legal right — and the Crown was not able to definitively establish how the gold pucks made their way out of the facility.
“We do have compelling evidence,” countered Crown attorney David Friesen, of someone “secreting (gold) on his person and taking it out of the Mint.”
Barnes implied there were many ways Lawrence could have legitimately obtained the gold — he could have bought the coins, for instance — and said he made no efforts to be devious with the gold buyers or the bank. Further, Barnes said, the Mint isn’t even sure a theft took place.
“In fact, I would submit the Mint doesn’t even know if anything is missing.”
In an emailed statement Tuesday evening, a Mint spokeswoman said several security measures had been upgraded, including high definition security cameras in all areas, improved ability to track, balance and reconcile precious metal, and the use of “trend analysis technology.”
- Source, Ottawa Citizen