USPS Employees Accused of Withholding 50,000 Pieces of Mail
Federal authorities in California charged several postal workers with mail theft, embezzlement, and a range of other crimes as part of a large scale investigation of criminal activity within the U.S. Postal Service.
The majority of the 33 people charged with abusing the postal system were USPS employees and their associates, while others were contractors. The defendants were charged in 28 cases, including one where employees allegedly failed to deliver nearly 50,000 pieces of mail.
“The mail system plays an important role in our country's commerce and social communication. Maintaining its integrity is vital,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Mail theft across Southern California has increased recently, which is significant since this type of crime tends to be a precursor to other crimes like identity theft and drug offenses. As a result, we are stepping up enforcement activities, including dealing aggressively with corruption within the Postal Service.”
Arrest warrants were issued for six of the 33 defendants, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
Of the 28 cases, about half involved mail theft and/or possession of stolen mail. The others charged employees with conspiracy, embezzlement, bank fraud, and false statements. Five cases allege crimes by non-employees, including mail theft and fraud related to the use of credit cards that were stolen from the mail.
In one case, a former local area president of the Mail Handlers Union was charged with conspiracy and possession of stolen mail for stealing mobile phones passing through the Moreno Valley Delivery Distribution Center where he worked. Jarol Garcia, 33, then traded the phones after offering them for exchange on a website, according to an indictment, which also alleges that Garcia, in December 2015, possessed at least 166 mobile phones stolen from the mail.
Two other cases were highlighted by the DOJ in their statement:
Another case charges a mail carrier from the Mid-City District of Los Angeles with conspiracy to commit access device (credit card) fraud and to steal mail. The indictment alleges that Norman A. Muschamp, 48, was part of a conspiracy to use information belonging to identity theft victims to order pre-paid PayPal debit cards that were sent to primarily non-existent addresses on his mail route. Muschamp allegedly participated in the scheme by obtaining the PayPal debit cards from the mail and delivering them to co-conspirators in exchange for cash. Investigators who are continuing to investigate the overall scheme believe it caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
In another case, a postal carrier from the Sawtelle District of Los Angeles was charged with delaying the mail by effectively hoarding the mail she was entrusted to deliver. Sherry Naomi Watanabe, 48, was found to have more than 48,000 pieces of mail in her residence, according to a plea agreement, that was supposed to be delivered to mail customers on her route in Placentia.
“The overwhelming majority of Postal Service employees are honest and dedicated public servants who are worthy of our trust. However, when employees engage in criminal activity, our agency will aggressively investigate these matters to protect the overall integrity of the Postal Service,” said U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Brian Washington.
Posted in General News