Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mint worker who hid gold in rectum jailed

Leston Lawrence, a former Royal Canadian Mint employee, who stole 22 pieces gold pucks worth over CA$$190,000 by concealing them in his rectum in 2014 and 2015 has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for stealing.

Leston Lawrence

On Thursday, Ontario Court Judge Peter Doody ordered Lawrence to pay a CA$$190,000 fine, he ruled that Lawrence should serve another 30 months in prison if he fails to pay the penalty within three years of his release.

Leston Lawrence was found guilty of stealing the 22 pucks from the mint on Sussex Drive, and of laundering 17 of them through Ottawa Gold Buyers (the cheque for an 18th puck never cleared because that puck was seized by police).

Lawrence was also found guilty of possession of property obtained by crime, conveying gold out of the mint and breach of trust by a public official.

The weight of the 17 laundered pucks ranged from 192 to 264 grams apiece and were sold for between $6,800 and $9,500 each in 2014 and 2015.

In a Feb. 2, 2015 video clip, Lawrence, an operator in the refinery section, can be seen setting off the “arch” metal detector through which all employees must pass when leaving secure areas of the Mint on Sussex Drive.

He is then inspected with a hand-held wand — without any apparent problem — and allowed to leave. Throughout the exchange with security staff, he appears to be in a jovial mood, as though the beeping detector was just a minor nuisance.

The trial heard that Lawrence, in fact, set off the overhead detector more than any other employee at the Mint, save those with metal medical implants. In three months, he set off the sensitive detector 27 times — sometimes with extremely high readings — but always passed the secondary hand-test.

Still, with all those warning signals, the Mint never began an internal investigation into Lawrence’s conduct. (It was only later that the RCMP recovered a jar of vaseline in his locker, as well as latex gloves. The Mint was so convinced the gold was smuggled in the anal cavity that it tested the method — successfully — with a security employee.)

“Mr. Lawrence has had his name and photograph displayed on the internet and in media around the world; this has undoubtedly given him a greater stigma and affected his reputation more than a conviction normally would have, and will make it more difficult for him to get employment in the future,” Doody said.

Investigators found vaseline and latex gloves in the mint employee's locker.

Judge Doody said these items "could have been used to facilitate insertion of gold items inside his rectum", reports the Toronto Star.

He used the money to buy a boat in Florida and build a house in Jamaica, the court heard.

Source: CBC, BBC.