- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

The General Services Administration provided little security for and oversight of the anthrax decontamination of a White House mail facility from which two former mail screeners are accused of stealing cash donations for Afghan children, federal court records show.
Dane C. Coleman bragged to other mail screeners that he took a bundle of cash out of envelopes addressed to America's Fund for Afghan Children. Vernon L. Coleman's job was to pick up the torn-open envelopes and put them in a bag to be destroyed, a Secret Service agent testified yesterday.
In a hearing yesterday in U.S. District Court, Agent David O. Deetz Jr. said Dane Coleman's co-workers "saw him with [cash] in the parking lot outside the facility. He said it was from the Afghan children's fund."
Dane Coleman and Vernon Coleman, who are not related, are accused of stealing cash and $35,000 worth of traveler's checks from the White House Remote Delivery site at Bolling Air Force Base, but federal agents do not know how much cash is missing, Mr. Deetz said.
Torn envelopes found inside the building were destroyed and not accounted for.
"Vernon Coleman said his responsibility was to place torn envelopes found on the floor in a biohazard bag for destruction," Mr. Deetz said.
No one ever saw either of the men take cash or traveler's checks through the decontamination process, Mr. Deetz said, adding that there were several places around the facility where either man could have bypassed the process.
His affidavit for an arrest warrant stated that Dane Coleman had tried to enlist co-workers to help him smuggle out a duffel bag full of cash from the building.
Dane Coleman and Vernon Coleman are accused of theft of government property while working for Scaccia Construction and Environmental Co. of Dickson City, Pa.
The company was a subcontractor in the decontamination of the mail facility.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay yesterday said there is enough evidence to show that the two should be charged for the theft.
The affidavit said Secret Service agents did not know the two men had been fired July 19 under suspicion of theft. 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.
Dane Coleman, 29, of Upper Darby, Pa., remained in jail pending a parole violation charge, and Vernon Coleman, 32, of Philadelphia, remains free on $5,000 bond.
Both men are convicted felons, and Dane Coleman is on parole for a robbery in Pennsylvania. But both men were allowed to roam freely throughout the site, where cash, sensitive documents and anthrax-tainted materials are kept.
The General Services Administration was responsible for hiring a company to clean anthrax spores from the site and for overseeing the cleanup operation. The Secret Service runs the facility and restricts access to it.
GSA and Secret Service officials declined to comment about the arrests.
Anthrax spores were detected in October at the site, which screens mail before it is delivered to the White House.
The building's decontamination began in June.

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