US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for July 11, 2022: Denver Mint thefts

An employee of the Denver Mint is alleged to have stolen at least 185 error coins from the facility.

Image by Bill Hathorn from Wikipedia Commons.

The sparse details in the Treasury Office of Inspector General report on the theft of error coins by an employee of the Denver Mint leave us wanting more information. A lot more.

As reported this week, we have filed a Freedom of Information request with the Treasury OIG. We now wait on a response, which could take weeks to months to receive.

Among the things we would like to know:

What kinds of error coins were involved?

Did the employee steal error coins that were randomly being produced or did they deliberately make “error” coins to smuggle out of the Mint?

Were the coins recovered by Mint officials the only ones that were stolen or were more coins involved, including some that have not been recovered?

Did the Denver Mint employee have a buyer or potential client for the coins?

Did any potential client request specific kinds of error coins?

How were the coins removed through the security system?

Have the relevant security lapses been fixed?

When did the thefts occur?

How did Mint officials learn of the thefts? Did they catch the employee in the act or did another employee or outside individual tip off officials?

Why was the employee not charged with theft of government property?

Why was the punishment at the Mint (a 14-day suspension) so lenient?

You may have other questions.

The theft of error coins from the Denver Mint should come as no surprise. Unusual things have happened there and at other U.S. Mint facilities for 150 years or more. In the later half of the 19th century, employees and the leadership of the Philadelphia Mint operated what amounted to a private minting business, making things like various patterns and restrikes and the Class II and III 1804 Draped Bust dollars for private sale to collectors. The five 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coins surfaced in the hands of a former Philadelphia Mint employee. A retiring Denver Mint employee received a 1974-D Lincoln aluminum cent. Large numbers of Proof error coins were smuggled from the San Francisco Mint in the 1970s. The potential list of similar shenanigans could go on and on.

As we learn more, if we learn more, we will report on this important story.

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