- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Federal authorities are expanding an investigation of missing currency at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to determine how many persons are involved and how much money has been taken, federal sources told The Washington Times yesterday.

The probe is focused on Thomas M. Janney, chief of the Office of Currency Production. The Times first reported Saturday that Mr. Janney last week admitted his involvement in the disappearance of $30,000 in currency to the Secret Service.

Mr. Janney, 45, of Damascus, Md., was placed on administrative leave Friday "so the investigation can be completed," said bureau spokesman Larry Felix. Sources said Mr. Janney has been banned from the Bureau of Engraving building in Southwest D.C.

He was allowed in the building under escort yesterday to be interviewed and then resign, bureau and law enforcement sources said.

The bureau's Product Integrity Division, within the Office of Security, was to ask him how the $30,000 was removed from the bureau's record system, how it was physically moved in the building and who else was involved, the sources said.

Security personnel suspect that one or more persons have been taking currency for about two years, according to bureau sources and a law enforcement source.

Mr. Janney is "blowing the whistle on a conspiracy to plea bargain," said a federal law enforcement source who asked not to be identified.

But one bureau official, speaking on background, said the currency removal "is a one-man show" that does not involve accomplices and any long-running conspiracy would have been detected.

As head of currency production, Mr. Janney was uniquely situated to enter restricted areas frequently without raising suspicion, bureau sources said.

Because of the bureau's complex system of accounting procedures and security controls, anyone stealing currency would need at least one accomplice, bureau and law enforcement sources said.

Security officers, wearing latex gloves, yesterday combed the building for evidence and sifted through trash cans, bureau sources said.

The investigation began about five weeks ago, when a brown envelope containing $30,000 was found in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing University auditorium, according to sources.

The Treasury Department oversees the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which designs and prints currency, Federal Reserve notes, Treasury securities, postage stamps, identification cards, certificates and other security documents. The agency, which employs about 2,500 workers, has a budget of $641 million.

The criminal investigation division of the Secret Service's Washington Field Office is assisting in the probe, said Special Agent Brian Decker, an agency spokesman.

Mr. Decker said he could not comment on the investigation.

Mr. Janney did not return a telephone message left at his office yesterday. No one returned a message left on an answering machine at Mr. Janney's Damascus home yesterday.

Mr. Janney's supervisors also did not return calls, referring callers to the bureau's spokesman.

Mr. Felix, the bureau spokesman, said he could not comment on any details of the investigation. He denied that Mr. Janney returned to the building and resigned yesterday.

He also denied any expansion of the investigation, saying, "We are reviewing our procedures."

Mr. Janney, a GS-15 level federal employee, makes between $87,800 and $114,200, according to bureau records. He has been chief of the currency production office since September 1998 and began working at the bureau as a book binder between 15 and 18 years ago.

The investigation won't likely conclude soon, according to government sources and officials involved in the case. Probes of "white-collar" crimes typically are lengthy, requiring investigators to sort through mountains of detailed paperwork.

When suspects are not at risk of committing the crime again or fleeing, investigators keep tabs on suspects and present the evidence to a grand jury for an indictment before making an arrest, sources said. That tactic prevents the involvement of a lawyer who would tell the suspect not to cooperate with authorities.

This is not the bureau's first security breach.

In 1994, Robert P. Schmitt Jr., a former bureau engineer, was charged with stealing $1.69 million in $100 bills, the largest theft in the agency's history. The Annapolis man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

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