News / Canada

Canadian Mint worker who hid gold pucks in his rectum to be sentenced

Leston Lawerence came to the attention of the Mint after a suspicious bank employee tipped off the police.

The gates of the Royal Canadian Mint are seen in Ottawa. Leston Lawrence, who was convicted of theft from the Mint, will be sentenced in an Ottawa court this morning.

Torstar News Service

The gates of the Royal Canadian Mint are seen in Ottawa. Leston Lawrence, who was convicted of theft from the Mint, will be sentenced in an Ottawa court this morning.

OTTAWA — A man who stole gold "pucks" from the Royal Canadian Mint by hiding them in his rectum to evade metal detectors is to be sentenced later this morning in an Ottawa court.

Leston Lawrence was convicted of theft in November by Ontario Court judge Peter Doody, who noted in his ruling the case was based on circumstantial evidence.

Doody said there was no video of Lawrence stealing the gold, and there were no witnesses.

Court heard that Lawrence, whose job at the mint involved purifying recently procured gold, sometimes worked alone and out of sight of security cameras in a process that involved creating the pucks.

He worked at the mint from 2008 until March 2015. 

Lawrence aroused suspicion in a bank employee in February 2015 after he asked to cash two cheques worth $15,200 from Ottawa Gold Buyers. Lawrence told the teller he had sold "gold nuggets" when she asked what the money was for, said court records.

The bank tipped off police, who then put Lawrence under surveillance.

Lawrence set off the metal detector more often than any other mint employee without metal implants, Doody said in his ruling. But follow-up searches with hand wands never discovered the smuggled gold hidden in his body cavity.

Police eventually seized a gold puck that Lawrence had sold and found four more in his safety deposit box.

Vaseline and latex gloves were later found in Lawrence's locker, which Doody said "could have been used to facilitate insertion of gold items inside his rectum."

Doody ruled Lawrence had stolen 22 gold pucks from the mint worth $165,451.14.

Lawrence was convicted of theft, possession of property obtained by crime, smuggling gold from the mint, laundering proceeds of crime and breach of trust.

More on Metronews.ca