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Mystery of the missing money: FBI befuddled by disappearance of $43,643

A veteran FBI agent in Illinois has been sentenced to serve five months in prison for lying about the disappearance of over $43,000. Interestingly, he was not accused of stealing the money.

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On July 1, 2010, Nau faxed an evidence inventory and receipt form to his FBI supervisor. It said the missing money had been recounted and placed into evidence. The form included signatures from two other law enforcement officials.

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The problem was that the signatures turned out to be forgeries – and the money was still nowhere to be found.

By September 2010, the Justice Department Inspector General’s office entered the fray. Nau told them the money had been held at the Peoria FBI office, but when he went to recover it for the Robinson trial he discovered it was gone.

He said he panicked and then lied to the prosecutor about the whereabouts of the cash. He told the Inspector General agents that he was hopeful the money would “show up.”

“Beyond the perjury and the inconsistency in his earlier statements, Nau’s explanation defies logic and is not credible,” Assistant US Attorney James Warden wrote in his sentencing memorandum in Nau’s case.

“It is contrary to reason that a veteran FBI agent who has innocently misplaced drug money evidence would keep that to himself and simply hope that it would ‘show up,’ ” he wrote. “Logically, the agent would notify his supervisor and his colleagues and seek their assistance in locating the missing evidence.”

Mr. Warden continued: “Instead, Nau also suggested that another agent who had retired from the FBI in March 2009 may have stolen the funds. That claim is without merit and reprehensible.”

Warden called Nau’s behavior “contemptible.” He said, “What further aggravates the facts here are the continuing false statements of [Nau] and his forgery of the signatures of two other law enforcement officers whom he falsely claimed would substantiate his false statements. The impact of his criminal conduct is startling.”

The mystery of the missing money did not escape the notice of Robinson’s defense counsel. The lawyer raised the issue in an appeal to the Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Judges Richard Posner, Diane Wood, and Ann Williams dismissed the appeal Dec. 15, 2010, ruling in part that “neither the whereabouts of the money nor the agent’s credibility was crucial to the verdict [in the Robinson drug case].”

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