Judge sentences man to 27 months for stealing $1.6 million from mint

March 11, 1995|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

Rejecting claims that the crime was partially caused by the drug Prozac, a federal judge sentenced an Edgewater man to 27 months in prison yesterday for stealing $1.6 million from his workplace -- the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington.

"This crime was committed by someone who was supposed to be a guardian of our assets," U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis said during sentencing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. "Sure, he was depressed. It's unfortunate. But there was not this reaction to the drugs."

Attorneys for Robert P. Schmitt Jr. -- who was a high-level engineer at the mint when he walked out last spring with 16,000 hundred-dollar bills in his briefcase -- had argued that Schmitt's personality changed while taking the anti-depressant Prozac and another drug.

Schmitt, 31, described by his attorneys in court papers as "a conservative man who owned two suits and who at the time lived at his mother's house," lost control and stole wads of cash from a vault he oversaw, his lawyers argued.

They asked Judge Garbis to sentence him to home detention and community service, saying that Schmitt suffered from "diminished capacity" due to the drugs.

Judge Garbis said Schmitt deserved some credit since he cooperated with Secret Service investigators after pleading guilty and had made arrangements to return all the money that was taken. But the judge said the damage was done when Schmitt stole the money and started spending it. "He didn't go out and just buy a third suit. He bought three pieces of real estate," Judge Garbis said.

Prosecutors said Schmitt used the stolen "test-printed" bills to purchase about $685,000 in real estate. He was also in the process of buying a $249,000 home in Washington at the time of his arrest, prosecutors said.

Authorities seized about $650,000 stuffed in a laundry bag Schmitt kept in his car. He had also deposited more than $300,000 in two area banks, prompting suspicion from bank officials who called authorities to report huge sums were being deposited by a man listing his employer as the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Judge Garbis also sentenced Schmitt to three years of supervised probation, during which he must perform 200 hours of community service.

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