Where'd the gold go?

January 29, 2010 9:47:43 PM PST
How does 12 pounds - $150,000 worth of gold - simply disappear? That's what many people are trying to find out. On Thursday night, we told you about the family feud over nearly a million dollars of gold and cash. And now, we're putting an accused woman's explanation to the test.

"This is solid and this is very, very heavy," said gold buyer Henrietta Floyd.

And it's not something the folks at Eagle Jewelry would easily misplace. In fact, there are only two scenarios Floyd can think of which would cause them to part with the 16 pound chunk of solid gold.

"If you're robbed or you sell it," she said.

That's what makes the explanation of an Atlanta woman that $150,000 in gold was just lost so incredible, say two judges, two jewelry experts and three lawyers, including her own.

"I'm not arguing that," said defense attorney Sarnie Randle.

The issue came up once again in a downtown civil courtroom Friday afternoon as part of a lawsuit against city of Houston Health Department worker Janice Stanton Hines. Her sister says she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from their ailing 94-year-old mother in Michigan. Hines maintains the money was a gift.

"It was a gift to her," said attorney Reginald McKamie, who's representing Hines. "There should be no lawsuit."

"There's no evidence that the money was taken out of the account was a gift," plaintiff attorney James Plummer.

Plummer and a Michigan attorney are working to get the money back. They believe once family members discovered the money was missing, Hines started moving it, giving $400,000, including $150,000 in gold coins, to her daughter in Atlanta.

In a deposition, Akwokwo Redhead said she lost it and speculated her two-year-old may have thrown it away because he throws everything away.

So we wanted to know just what $150,000 in gold coins would look like. Based on late 2008 prices when they were bought, it would be about 176 coins.

Jeweler Fred Cuellar says they would be hard to mistake.

"It's the kind of thing that's going to make a lot of racket," he said.

And hard for a two-year-old to even carry.

Mine could barely pick up 10 pounds and Floyd says the gold in question would weigh 12 pounds.

"There's no way a two-year-old would be able to pick up 12 pounds of solid concentrated metal," said Floyd.

A Michigan judge has jailed Hines there until all the money is returned, which could be a long time. Her daughter is not wavering on her explanation about the missing gold, even though few believe it.

The judge in the lawsuit here is getting a little agitated. It's been a year since he first asked for an accurate accounting of the money and gold and still the numbers don't add up. There will be another hearing next month. Janice Hines' attorney has filed a motion to dismiss. He wants the entire case moved to Michigan since that's where his client is jailed and that's where all the money originated.