The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 23, 2013

Cash find lands pair in trouble

Kathy Mellott

JOHNSTOWN — Upward of a half-million dollars in cash stashed in old coffee cans and found inside an Ebensburg garage has landed a local couple in trouble with the law.

David Eugene Lamer, 47, and Roxanne Lamer, 46, whose address is listed on federal documents as the 100 block of Tanner Street, are in trouble, not because they found the money, but because they failed to tell the Internal Revenue Service about the fortune.

The couple entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy last week in U.S. District Court for the Western Pennsylvania District in Johnstown.

They will be sentenced Aug. 9 by federal Judge Kim R. Gibson, said Cindy Pfeifer, IRS public information officer.

The Lamers’ attorney, Art McQuillan of Johnstown, had little to say late last week.

“Mr. and Mrs. Lamer accepted responsibility for a violation of the tax laws and there is a disposition on the case,” he said.

The story told in the guilty plea documents signed by the Lamers and other court documents depict a scenario similar to a movie.

Lamer is a truck driver, and on June 9, 2007, he was hired by a family, not named in court documents, to clean out a garage in Ebensburg.

The garage, The Tribune-Democrat has learned, was the property of a longtime business operator in the area. Due to his declining years, family members of the garage owner took it upon themselves to clean out the structure.

The belief was that anything of value was removed by the family and Lamer, hired to finish the project, was free to remove scrap metal, anything salvageable and get rid of the trash.

What Lamer found inside the garage were an undisclosed number of coffee cans and rolls of cash totaling $390,544.

Court documents show he took the cash-loaded coffee cans and said nothing to family members of the garage owner.

The Lamers then set about developing a complicated scheme to use the money without attracting attention.

In late June 2007, the Lamers, along with a woman identified as Linda Reed from Alabama, met at a campsite in the area and counted the money.

Roxanne Lamer created a contemporaneous written tally of the money and a safe was purchased to store and “secrete” the cash, the documents state.  

At about the same time, a second safe was purchased and given to Linda Reed along with $100,000 in cash with instructions for her to return to Alabama.

Her instructions from David Lamer were to pay off his mortgage and deposit the balance in a certificate of deposit for eventual return to him.

In July of that year, David Lamer contacted a man identified in court documents as Alvin Miller, address not disclosed, and asked for his help in getting the cash “into circulation.”

From July through October  2007, varying amounts of cash were given to Miller who in turn wrote checks on his bank account to David and Roxanne Lamer.

But somewhere a leak about the money developed.

“In or around December of 2007, the family who owned the garage property asked David Eugene Lamer if he had found coffee cans containing U.S. currency when he was cleaning out the garage,” court documents stated.

“David Eugene Lamer falsely replied in the negative.”

On or about April 15, 2008, Lamer filed his 2007 individual income tax return and failed to report an income of $390,544, according to documents.

At some point police agencies investigated the circumstances. An investigation was reflected in the guilty plea documents where the terms “stole” or “stolen” were repeatedly used in relation to Lamers and the money. Those terms were crossed out by federal court personnel and the word “removed” inserted dozens of times in the documents.

Criminal theft or related charges were never filed.

Along with conspiracy charges, David Lamer also pleaded guilty to violating federal firearms laws by being in possession of two rifles and a shotgun in September 2010, according to U.S. attorney David Hickton.  

He had been convicted of burglary in Cambria County in 1986, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, making it illegal for him to possess firearms, Hickton said.

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