WASHINGTON — Misprinted stamps worth thousands of dollars apiece were discovered by CIA employees who virtually cornered the market by taking 95 of them from the agency's supplies, a published report said.
The CIA is investigating the nine employees for using their government positions for private profit, the Washington Post reported in today's editions.
One sheet of 400 of the misprinted $1 stamps was produced, according to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, when it was inadvertently reversed during printing. On the misprints, a candlestick is upside down.
The Post, quoting a stamp dealer, a writer for a collectors' publication and a government report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, said 95 of the stamps were purchased from a McLean, Va., post office for CIA use on March 27, 1986.
The CIA employees who spotted the misprint sold 86 of the stamps to a New Jersey dealer and evidently kept the remaining nine, the newspaper said.
The CIA involvement is detailed in the latest issue of Linn's Stamp News, due to reach subscribers this week, the Post said.
CIA spokeswoman Sharon Foster confirmed Tuesday evening that the Bureau of Printing and Engraving was investigating the case. She declined to discuss details or possible involvement by CIA employees but said the agency "takes seriously any allegations of misconduct."
"If we determine that there has been any criminal intent, then we refer that to the proper authorities," she said.
Bill Bergstrom, office manager of Jacques C. Shiff Jr. Inc. of Ridgefield Park, N.J., the dealer that obtained the stamps, told the Post that one was recently resold for $17,600.
He and Charles Yeager, Linn's Washington correspondent, said the misprints' value ultimately could be as high as $115,000 apiece, or more than $10 million total.
For months previously, government officials had credited discovery of the inverted candlestick stamps to employees of an unidentified company in northern Virginia.