- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

The Secret Service arrested two former White House mail screeners more than two weeks after they had been fired under suspicion of stealing $35,000 worth of traveler's checks from an anthrax-contaminated mail facility.
The time between the screeners' firings and their arrests marks a potential security breach that may have allowed sensitive documents to be compromised or anthrax to be spread via stolen mail, said a government source familiar with the White House mail facility.
Secret Service and FBI agents wore protective suits to guard themselves from anthrax exposure when they raided the Pennsylvania homes of Dane Christopher Coleman and Vernon Coleman on Aug. 6.
Dane Coleman, 28, of Upper Darby, and Vernon Coleman, 32, of Philadelphia, are accused of stealing bags of cash sent to the White House for the Afghanistan Children's Fund and $35,000 worth of traveler's checks mailed to the White House Federal Credit Union. The men are not related.
They were released on a $5,000 bond each and are scheduled to appear in a hearing on charges of mail fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay in the District tomorrow.
An affidavit filed in federal court said Secret Service agents did not know the two men had been fired July 19 under suspicion of theft from the White House Remote Delivery Site at Bolling Air Force Base.
Agents began probing the case after an investigator for American Express told the Secret Service on July 26 that $3,650 worth of traveler's checks stolen from the delivery site had been deposited into Philadelphia banks.
The two men should have been questioned and searched immediately because the delivery site contains sensitive documents, and materials there are contaminated with deadly anthrax spores, said a government source familiar with the facility.
"Who knows what they took out of there," said the government employee. "They had access to the whole place."
Scaccia Construction and Environmental Co. of Dickson City, Pa., had been working since June 26 as a subcontractor in the decontamination of the delivery site, which was found to have anthrax spores in October.
Scaccia owner Carlos Scotch said yesterday that he did not know whether his company told the Secret Service or the FBI that the two men had been fired on suspicion of theft from the facility.
"When we were informed by one of our employees he saw them sticking money in a backpack, we relieved them of their jobs at the time," Mr. Scotch said.
"We cooperated with the FBI 100 percent."
After the two were arrested, Scaccia was ordered to stop working on the decontamination, he said.
Mr. Scotch said Dane Coleman and Vernon Coleman had worked for his company from time to time and, before they began working at the Bolling facility, the FBI had conducted background checks on them and other employees.
He said he was not sure exactly where the two worked in the facility as their job sites changed daily.
It could not be determined yesterday if the men had criminal records or security clearances.
The Secret Service restricts access to the facility, where mail addressed to the White House is screened and X-rayed.

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