Post Office scandal hits Southern California: cell phones, prescriptions stolen, mail hoarded

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced on Friday, Aug. 26, that 33 defendants in 28 cases — the majority of whom are current of former Postal Service (USPS) workers — were being charged with mail fraud, conspiracy, embezzlement and making false statements to investigators

The accusations by federal authorities include theft of cell phones, prescription medications and video games sent through the mail; conspiring to use information lifted from identity-theft victims to obtain pre-paid debit cards sent to fake addresses along one mail carriers route and then selling them for cash; stealing government property by siphoning 385 gallons of gasoline from contractor vehicles; one case in which a single mail carrier had hoarded nearly 50,000 pieces of mail in their personal residence; and a USPS sales associate who falsified an official document related to the embezzlement of post office funds.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said in a statement. “As a result, we are stepping up enforcement activities, including dealing aggressively with corruption within the Postal Service.”

The string of indictments come not long after news in February that USPS had reported $307 million in net income in the first quarter of this fiscal year, the first time the Postal Service has turned a profit in nearly five years.

In quarter one of fiscal year 2015, USPS recorded a $754 million net loss.

All defendants named in cases announced Aug. 26 will be arraigned in U.S. District Court at Los Angeles, Santa Ana and Riverside, Calif.


[Washington Post] [Los Angeles Times] [Photo courtesy]