A North Wildwood man who worked as a police officer at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was sentenced Thursday in Camden to three years in prison for stealing coins worth more than $2 million, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
William Gray, 65, took error coins and then sold them to a coin distributor in California, according to a press release. He also failed to pay taxes on the money he made.
Gray, represented by Philadelphia-based defense attorney Brian McMonagle, had already pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to two counts of theft of government property and tax evasion, and on Thursday Hillman sentenced Gray to 36 months in a federal prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson represented the government in the case.
Fishman said that Gray admitted that between June 1996 and January 2011 — while working as a mint police officer in Philadelphia — he regularly took several small bags to the coining area, where Presidential $1 coins were made.
“Gray said he took Presidential $1 coins with the missing edge lettering, knowing they would be considered more valuable to coin collectors because they were considered ‘mint errors,’” Fishman said.
The minting of the coins is a two-step process, with the initial stamping imprinting the obverse (heads) and reverse (tails) images and a second stamping imprinting the edge lettering.
Gray then smuggled the error coins out of the mint and eventually shipped them to a coin distributor in California from the U.S. Post Office in Rio Grande or a FedEx location in Egg Harbor Township.
Fishman said Gray admitted to receiving about $2.3 million for the error coins. The coin distributor sent all checks for payment by FedEx to Gray’s residence in North Wildwood. Gray then deposited the proceeds into his Police and Fire Federal Credit Union account.
In addition, Gray admitted that between 2007 and 2009, he failed to report the sale of the coins on his income tax returns. His tax liability on the proceeds amounted to about $801,651.
Hillman also sentenced Gray to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $15,208 in restitution to the U.S. Mint, forfeit $2.3 million and cooperate with the IRS to resolve his tax liability.
Fishman said the U.S. Mint has implemented measures to improve security within all its facilities following the discovery of Gray’s crimes.
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