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Royal Canadian Mint worker gets prison for smuggling gold in his rectum

February 4, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Royal Canadian Mint worker gets prison for smuggling gold in his rectum

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Leston Lawrence, a Royal Canadian Mint employee, who was convicted of stealing 22 gold “pucks” by smuggling them up his rectum, was sentenced to 30 months behind bars on Thursday.

“I’d just like to say thank you, and that’s it,” 35-year-old Lawrence said to Ontario Justice Peter Doody, who also ordered that the former Mint refinery operator pay a penalty of $145,900.

Lawrence was found guilty back in November of stealing the gold pieces, which was worth over $127,000, over a three-month period beginning in late 2014 and then reselling them and spending the profits. Lawrence, an employee for seven years before he was terminated in March 2015, was designing a new house in Jamaica and sent approximately $25,000 to a contractor in the Caribbean.

He also invested another $26,000 in a commercial fishing boat in Florida and sent wire transfers out of Canada to himself and another man, while withdrawing over $30,000 in cash, The Ottawa Citizen reported.

Although Lawrence’s smuggling tactics were never proven, Doody said that he believed Lawrence must have concealed the gold pieces — which were roughly as wide as a golf ball — in his rectum after his work shifts. Vaseline and latex gloves were discovered in Lawrence’s locker, and he set off a metal detector inside the building 28 times over a span of 41 days, despite gold never being located on his body.

The weight of the laundered gold pieces varied from 6.7 to 9.3 ounces each and were sold for between $5,200 and $7,200 in 2014 and 2015, according to CBC News.

Doody noted in court that the crime attracted headlines and was the focus of comedy skits around the world — including by talk show host Stephen Colbert, who referred to the man as “Goldsphincter,” a play on the James Bond film “Goldfinger.”

“Mr. Lawrence 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 would have, and will make it more difficult for him to get employment in the future,” Doody added.

Royal Canadian Mint executives — who at the time had no clue the gold was gone — were later so convinced of Lawrence’s smuggling technique that they had another employee duplicate it. The recreated heist set off the first metal detector but not a second one conducted with a hand-held device.

Gary Barnes, Lawrence’s lawyer, told the judge that he thought his client had managed all the unwanted attention surrounding his arrest “very well” and said that he was trying to make restitution by selling his residence. As of last month, nothing had been repaid.

Lawrence’s scheme was detected in early 2015 when an alert teller noticed he was a mint worker while he was making a large deposit. She then contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Four stolen gold pieces later were located in his safe deposit box, and they matched in shape and size with those produced in a refinery process.

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