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Man Who Smuggled Gold in Rectum Wins Economic Argument

Leston Lawrence thought he shouldn't have to pay back $190K
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2018 8:59 AM CDT
Leston Lawrence smuggled gold "pucks," not bars, but this is the best stock image we could track down.   (Getty Images)

(Newser)

A Canadian man who smuggled six figures' worth of gold out of the country's mint in his rectum and ended up in prison as a result scored a final court win—one centered around market forces and gold prices. As previously reported, Leston Lawrence was found guilty in November 2016 of smuggling out the 22 gold "pucks" and received a 30-month sentence, with the judge deciding three months later that if the then-35-year-old couldn't repay the gold's value—$190,000 in Canadian dollars at the time—in a three-year post-prison period, he'd go back behind bars for another 30 months. The Ottawa Citizen reports that in July, Lawrence's lawyers argued the replacement value should be less than $190,000; when he stole the gold, it was worth $165,000, and what he got for it on the street was the lesser amount of $130,206.19.

A three-judge appeals panel ruled for Lawrence. They didn't base their decision on market prices, but rather the "proceeds of the crime," writing "the purpose of a fine in lieu of forfeiture is to deprive an offender" of those proceeds, which "is not necessarily the value of the property." In Lawrence's case, the proceeds were the $130,206.19, and the judge should have set his fine at that amount. Lawrence also asked for more time to make the repayment, but that request was not granted. The judges noted in their ruling Lawrence had yet to sell his home—one he reportedly bought using those gold proceeds—because, appropriately, he is waiting for it to go up in value. (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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