Arundel man charged with stealing $1.7 million from Bureau of Engraving

June 18, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel County man has been charged with stealing $1.7 million in $100 bills from his workplace -- the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, federal authorities announced yesterday.

Robert P. Schmitt Jr., a technical engineer with the money-printing bureau, was arrested Thursday after a two-month investigation that started when area bank tellers became suspicious of the suspect's large cash deposits, authorities said.

The stolen money was "test-printed," meaning it was never meant to be circulated.

"This act . . . is an aberrant exception and not reflective of the very honest work force at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing," said Peter H. Daly, director of the engraving bureau.

"While no security system regardless of its sophistication is foolproof, the bureau's system is comprehensive and multifaceted. Moreover, it is part of an integrated network of security and accountability over our nation's currency system," he said.

According to motor vehicle records, Mr. Schmitt is 31 and lives in Edgewater. The thief is believed to have acted alone and nearly all of the stolen money has been recovered, according to Lynne A. Battaglia, U.S. Attorney for Maryland.

Approximately $650,000 was found in Mr. Schmitt's Nissan 300ZX car and another $500,000 was seized from a safe deposit box at a Citizens Bank in Washington. A total of about $350,000 was in bank accounts at the Citizens Bank and at Annapolis Bank and Trust in Annapolis, authorities said.

Ms. Battaglia credited alert banking officials with reporting the suspicious deposits to investigators such as the Maryland Financial Investigative Task Force, which develops criminal cases from unusual bank transactions.

"The success of this investigation is due in large part to the outstanding cooperation of area banks with our financial task force," she said. "This case clearly points out that law enforcement success is dependent . . . on the astute observations and detailed information provided by private citizens and businesses, such as the banking community."

Authorities said they are continuing their investigation into how the money was stolen from the printing facility.

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