Friday, September 09, 2011

How Safe Is The US Mint?

Now you would think the US Mint would have as much security as Fort Knox but the Associated Press is reporting William Gray, previous employee of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, has admitted to stealing $2.4 million worth of "error" coins and selling them to a coin distributor in California. He was freed on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 20.

William Gray, 64, of North Wildwood, pleaded guilty to theft of government property and tax evasion before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden. Gray acknowledged he did not pay taxes on the money he got for the coins.

The coins in question were mint error $1 presidential coins. They were missing edge lettering. The edges would normally have the mint mark, the year minted and the words "E Pluribus Unum". The Presidential series has been in production since 2007.

Now it was not mentioned if the coin distributor in California was arrested, (Note: this article is as a example it is not known if Numismatic Guaranty Corp is the distributor mentioned) nor was it mentioned if Gray stole 2,400,000 coins or if the 2.4 mil is just some retail value of the coins. The Approximate Value of mint error presidential coins is $50 to $3,000 each, depending on the President. The mint sells non-errors coins for $1 on up each depending on condition.

The Presidential $1 coin is a gift of former Delaware Rep. Mike Castle who moved the presidential coin bill forward if it didn't displace other dollar coins honoring Sacagawea, the teenage Native American guide to Lewis and Clark. Currently, the law says 20 percent of dollar coins made must have Sacagawea on them.

So, down in the vaults of the Federal Reserve is about 1.2 billion dollar-coin "assets" that the American Public refused to embrace and use as a replacement for the dollar bill. By the time the presidential coin series finishes, and there are coins honoring all past presidents, there could be 2 billion.

So how did he get all these coins out? My wife works at Sam's Club and her lunch box and purse is checked each night as she leaves and this guy takes an immense amount of coins and no one knows it - unless of course everybody is stealing and no one cares about it.

As the Roman poet Juvenal said "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" - "Who will guard the guards themselves?"

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