Mint gold smuggler gets 30-month sentence
A man who stole $165,000 worth of gold pucks from the Royal Canadian Mint by hiding them in his rectum has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Leston Lawrence smuggled 22 gold pucks out of the Mint while he was an employee there. He set off metal detectors several times, but the gold was never detected in pat-downs by security guards. In his decision, Justice Peter Doody called his crimes "an egregious breach of trust."
"There has been no explanation for the motivation other than greed," Doody wrote in his written submission.
"The security system at the Mint had a number of gaps. Mr. Lawrence took advantage of those gaps on 22 separate occaisons."
Lawrence worked at the mint for seven years until March 2015. Between November 2014 and May 2015, Lawrence stole gold "pucks" from the Mint, hid them up his rectum to avoid detection, and then sold them to Ottawa Gold Buyers. A curious teller noticed his large transactions seemed inappropriate and contacted the authorities.
"We thought that there was an argument to be made that they couldn't prove he committed the crime because the Mint, to this day, still doesn't know that they've lost anything," Lawrence's lawyer Gary Barnes told reporters Thursday.
Lawrence was found guilty of five charges, including theft, in November. Judge Doody stayed two of those charges on Thursday.
Doody also ordered Lawrence to pay $190,000 in restitution to the Mint. If he dosen't repay the money within three years after he's released, he could face further imprisonment.
The Crown had asked for Lawrence to be sentenced to three years, while the defence asked for an 18-month sentence. The judge said he believes the sentence will serve as an "adequate general deterrence."