September 20, 2016
A 35-year-old Royal Canadian Mint employee awaits his fate after being accused of smuggling gold from the Crown corporation facility, hiding the precious metal in his bum.
Court heard Leston Lawrence, of Barrhaven, Ont., brought several chunks of gold — in cookie-sized 7.4 oz. nuggets called “pucks” — to an Ottawa Gold Buyers outlet where he was paid approximately $6,800 for each puck, depending on the price of gold that day.
Lawrence reportedly then took those cheques and deposited them at a Royal Bank in the same mall where the Gold Buyers was located.
Courts records showed 18 pucks were sold between Nov. 27, 2014 and March 12, 2015.
Along with dozens of gold coins redeemed, the total value of the alleged theft is conservatively estimated at $179,015.
Among Lawrence’s duties at the Mint was to measure the purity of gold coins.
It was a bank teller who first raised her eyebrows about Lawrence’s actions – noting the number of deposits, his requests to wire the money overseas and the fact his profile listed the Mint as his place of employment.
The RCMP was soon involved and court heard a search warrant revealed four Mint-style pucks inside Lawrence’s safety deposit box.
Investigators also found a container of Vaseline in his locker. It was also suggested a gold puck concealed in an anal cavity might not be detectable by the handheld wand used as a secondary security measure at the Mint after an employee sets off the metal detector.
Defence lawyer Gary Barnes argued there were many ways Lawrence could have legitimately obtained the gold and said he made no efforts to be devious with the gold buyers or the bank.
Crown attorney David Friesen, however, said there was “compelling evidence” of someone “secreting (gold) on his person and taking it out of the Mint.”
Lawrence faces a number of charges including theft, laundering the proceeds of crime, possession of stolen property and breach of trust.
Justice Peter Doody reserved decision until Nov. 9.