Man accused of $180k ass-based gold smuggling scam awaits verdict

RCMP conduct internal investigation to see if it could be done

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A Canadian man accused of smuggling $180,000 of gold out of the Royal mint – allegedly in his anal cavity – is awaiting a court verdict after his defence condemned the government’s case as “appalling” and entirely circumstantial.

Leston Lawrence, 35, of Ottawa was accused of charges including theft, laundering the proceeds of crime, possession of stolen property and breach of trust in a case that turned a spotlight on security measures at the Mint - and indeed some even darker places.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Lawrence was accused of smuggling cookie sized lumps of the yellow stuff - dubbed pucks - out of the facility, where he worked in the Mint’s refinery section, amongst other things, scooping up spoonfuls of molten gold for purity testing.

An investigation kicked off after a bank teller became suspicious over the deposit of cheques from the nearby Ottawa Gold Buyers, and Lawrence’s request to wire money abroad, and then noticed Lawrence worked at the mint. The bank alerted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who obtained a search warrant and found four pucks in Lawrence’s safety deposit box.

Gold ringer

The prosecution said records showed that 18 pucks had been sold over a period of months, which together with gold coins also redeemed, had a conservative value of $179,015.

However, Lawrence’s defence said the prosecutors had not proved Lawrence’s gold came from the mint, and indeed pointed out that the facility was unable to establish whether it was actually short of gold.

The court was told the pucks in question precisely fitted the “scooping” spoon used in the testing process. The court was also told that Lawrence set off the metal detectors in the mint’s secure area more than anyone else, except employees with medical implants. However, he always passed the follow-up test carried out with a hand-held metal detecting wand.

The court also heard that a container of Vaseline was found in Lawrence’s work locker. The allegation was that pucks were being smuggled out of the mint by inserting them in the anal cavity. Apparently, the wand would not be expected to have picked up gold cached thus.

Lawrence did not take the stand, so this theory was not tested definitively in court. He denies guilt and his lawyer described the Crown's evidence as "circumstantial".

Security totally pucked

Prosecutors revealed that prior to the court case they had examined the possibility - with a dedicated mint security person taking one for the team, by taking one of the cookie-sized pucks out of the facility in the manner described. We’re hoping the cookies they tested were more of the Maryland sized, that the Millie's-sized giant variety.

The judge in the case has reserved judgement until November. In the meantime, physical security has been tightened up at the mint. There’s no word on whether any tightening up has been carried out amongst staff. ®


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