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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Half a Million Dollars That Nobody Wants to Claim 

Thank God the weekend intervened. If not for the annual tournament of the Zemblan 12-and-under Youth Mayan-Soccer League, we would have spent the last 48 hours wondering what the hell we should make of this:
Two men from Houston, Texas, transporting more than $504,000 in cash were stopped at a security entrance to the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport Tuesday evening and briefly held but were not charged with any crime, state police said.

State police and federal officials said Wednesday they don't think the incident, though unusual, was a part of any terrorism or threat against the nuclear plant or employees there.

Shippingport police Sgt. Robert Davis said state police and federal agencies will continue to follow up leads in Chicago and Houston to determine who owns the money, which state police said could be tied to drug proceeds.

The men, Donald R. Kingsby and William Lewis, were released Tuesday evening, though state police kept the money because they suspected there could be drug residue on it. The men denied the money belonged to them . . . .

During the search, according to state Trooper Jonathan Bayer, security guards found a green, blue and black duffel bag, the size of a large gym bag, in the sleeper portion of the rig.

The bag had a lock on it, Bayer said, but when security guards asked Kingsby to unlock the bag, he said he didn't have a key. A guard then cut the lock off the bag and saw a large amount of cash inside. Kingsby said the money belonged to his boss, who had planned to buy a truck, according to the warrant.

When security guards called Kingsby's boss, whom state police did not name, he denied any knowledge of the money, according to the warrant . . . .

Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Wednesday that her agency was not investigating the incident.

"It is a local law enforcement issue, not a nuclear safety issue," Screnci said. "Our jurisdiction involves the safety and security of the plant."
Our esteemed colleague Jeff Wells of Rigorous Intuition, who is at least as credulous as Yr. Mst. Bnvlnt. Dspt. if not more so, adds the following:
Three more things: A police dog sensed drug residue on the bills (Not necessarily exceptional, that: "The probability that every single person in the United States is carrying drug-tainted money is almost certain.") Though the truckers were said to be polite and cooperative, one of them wasn't carrying identification, and told the dog-ate-my-homework tale of [his ID] having been stolen from the truck the night before. (While a duffel bag of cash was left behind?) And the "truckers worked for a company hired by San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., which is performing construction work and replacing equipment at the plant."

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was summoned and quickly sized up the situation. The truckers were released, the money seized and, as seen in this
video, it was the reporters who were detained. The truckers were allowed to leave because authorities claimed there was no indication they had committed a crime. How quaint, and how selective the presumption of innocence . . . .

So what is going on here? Because something just had its cover blown.

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