It was a rare but certainly interesting case of theft, and the perpetrator has now been sentenced.
An employee of the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa was found to have been stealing gold from the mint.
In November of last year 35-year-old Leston Lawrence was found guilty of stealing 22 gold “pucks”.
His job at the time was to take small samples from batches of molten gold which would then be tested for purity. He sometimes worked alone and the process meant periods out of sight of the only security camera in the room.
He managed to sell 17 of the pucks for a total of about $130,000. He was caught, not by the mint, but through an alert bank employee where he cashed the cheques.
Lawrence creating gold puck
Lawrence has now been sentenced to 30 months in jail, and pay a $190,000 fine, the estimated actual worth of the missing gold.
Ontario Court Justice Peter Doody also said Lawrence must repay the fine within three years of his release, or be sent back to jail for another 30 months.
Lawrence used the money to buy a house in Jamaica and a boat in Florida.
Internal video of screening room as Lawrence sets off main detector
The judge noted that the evidence was mostly circumstantial as no-one actually saw Lawrence taking the pucks and there was no video evidence although the pucks exactly fit the unique ladle used at the mint, and Vaseline and latex gloves were found in Lawrence’s locker at work. Four unsold pucks were also recovered from a safety deposit box.
Records show Lawrence also set off the metal detector more often than any other employee, but that subsequent checks with a wand did not set off alarms.
The Mint says it since improved its internal security measures.
Additional information- sources
- Ontario Court- conviction ruling Nov 2016 (copy paste; ” 2016 ONCJ 701 (CanLII) ” into case number field
- Original RCI
- The Canadian Press: M Blanchfield (viaToronto Star)
- CTV-Canadian Press