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Gold found buried in R.I. backyard

The FBI has seized 82 bars of solid gold and 7 bags of gold pellets _ worth $2.1-million _ that were found buried in the back yard and cellar of the mother of imprisoned money-launderer Stephen Saccoccia.

U.S. Attorney Sheldon Whitehouse announced Tuesday that prosecutors have sought to have the gold forfeited to the government, charging that it is linked to a drug money-laundering ring run by Saccoccia, who is now serving 660 years in federal prison.

According to court papers, all of the gold was found last month in the cellar and back yard of Margaret Saccoccia in Cranston, R.I. According to an affidavit by Special Agent Michael C. Scully of the FBI, the government was tipped off to the location of the hidden gold by David R. Saucier, who is married to Stephen Saccoccia's sister, Sandra Saucier.

David Saucier disclosed that Stephen Saccoccia, at various times before his arrest in November 1991, buried and removed gold bars from property the Sauciers owned in Seekonk, R.I. In late 1996, Saucier said, he took the gold to Margaret Saccoccia's home.

Saucier's identity and the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the gold bars at Margaret Saccoccia's residence were contained in papers filed by prosecutors to support their move to have the gold forfeited to the government.

Whitehouse said there are no plans at present to prosecute anyone in connection with the discovery of the gold bars.

Asked why he thought a Saccoccia family member would cooperate with authorities at this juncture, Whitehouse surmised it was because the relative did not want to risk being placed under oath in a deposition and committing perjury, which would result in criminal charges being lodged. "We take depositions and ask questions under oath. Sometimes we strike out, and sometimes we strike gold," the U.S. attorney said.

Together, the bars of gold weigh nearly 6,000 Troy ounces and are valued at $2,116,533.

In 1993, Stephen Saccoccia, a coin dealer, was sentenced to a 660-year prison term for laundering millions of dollars in cocaine money for Colombian drug lords.