Ottawa, Canada — An employee of the Royal Canadian Mint has been accused of smuggling nearly 180,000 Canadian dollars’ worth of gold out of the Mint’s Ottawa facility by hiding it in his rectum.
Mint employee Leston Lawrence, 35, of Barrhaven, Ontario, has been charged in Canadian court with multiple smuggling-related crimes, including theft, money laundering, possession of stolen property, and breach of trust.
The gold was in the form of cookie-sized objects called “pucks,” each of which comprised 7.4 ounces of gold. Beginning around November 2014, Lawrence was allegedly able to steal the gold by inserting the pucks into his butt and strolling out of the mint with little suspicion.
The gold did set off the Mint’s metal detectors. But each time when he was checked with a handheld wand, he passed the security test and was allowed to leave.
Lawrence’s alleged gold-in-the-butt scheme continued until mid March 2015, with Lawrence repeatedly stealing pucks in this manner. Reportedly, the Royal Canadian Mint never missed the gold and didn’t even know a theft had occurred.
The accused thief took the stolen gold to a company called Ottawa Gold Buyers, which paid him $6,800 Canadian (about $5180 US) per puck. Ottawa Gold Buyers is located in a strip mall. According to its Website, the company promises to “beat any local competitor’s offers.”
Lawrence supposedly sold puck after puck to Ottawa Gold Buyers over a four-month period, receiving a series of checks that he deposited at a Royal Bank location in the same strip mall. There he asked about having the money transferred overseas, and this aroused the suspicions of a bank teller. When she checked his account data and found he worked for the Mint, she alerted security who contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Court records show that Lawrence sold or hid in his safety deposit box a total of 18 gold pucks for a combined value of $179,015 Canadian (about $136,000 USD).
During its investigation, the RCMP checked Lawrence’s locker at the Mint. There they discovered a jar of Vaseline. This led investigators and prosecutors to the conclusion that the thief hid the pucks in his anal cavity.
As the investigation began, Lawrence was dismissed from his position as a refinery operator at the Mint.
His trial concluded September 20, when his defense attorney suggested in his closing statement that the fault lay with the mint for its lack of effective security measures. Lawrence’s attorney Gary Barnes said,
“This is the Royal Canadian Mint, your Honour, and one would think they should have the highest security measure imaginable,”
Barnes also contended that Lawrence might easily have obtained the pucks legally, and that his client had not attempted to deceive Ottawa Gold Buyers or Royal Bank. Moreover, said Barnes, the Mint had never reported the missing gold:
“In fact, I would submit the Mint doesn’t even know if anything is missing,”
Meanwhile, Crown attorney David Friesen asserted that there was,
“compelling evidence of an individual secreting [gold] on his person and taking it out of the Mint.”
Although the trial is concluded, a verdict in the case is yet to be rendered. Justice Peter Doody — yes, that’s his name, “Doody” — has delayed the final decision until November 9.