While billions of pieces of mail safely reached their destinations this year, postal employees in Georgia pocketed over 1,300 federal checks, pleading this month to stealing nearly $3 million in Treasury checks — including veterans checks, Social Security checks, and tax refunds.
Gerald Easton of Stockbridge, Georgia plead guilty to the theft in early December, which occurred while he was working as a supervisor at an Atlanta mail distribution center and to conspiring with another employee at the facility. Four other non-postal workers have plead guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.
Paul Bowman, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Service in the Office of Inspector General, noted that Easton and his co-conspirator Deborah Fambro-Echols (who plead guilty in late November) are a few bad eggs among a group that is largely committed to fulfilling their mission.
“We take these cases very serious and investigate them to the fullest extent of the law. The majority of Postal Service employees are honest, hardworking, and committed to providing the timely and reliable service that customers expect and deserve,” Bowman said in a statement.
The Washington Guardian which first reported the theft Wednesday, added that between April and September 2012, 171 Postal Service employees were arrested for “theft, willful delay or destruction of mail.” Last year the service delivered 167.9 billion pieces of mail. The service employs 546,000 employees, The Guardian added.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates credited the creation of a task force partnership with state, local and federal law enforcement agencies in helping to suss out the bad actors.
“We created a task force last year to address the problem of stolen U.S. Treasury checks in Georgia. At that time, our state ranked third in the country in the number of federal tax refund, Social Security, and Veterans checks reported stolen by their intended recipients.” Yates said in a statement.
“With today’s pleas, we have taken two corrupt postal workers, including a supervisor, off the streets who were responsible for stealing thousands of checks worth over $3 million. We will continue to target these theft rings – both those on the inside and their network of check cashers – to address this serious problem,” she added.
According to the Georgia State Attorney’s Office, Eason plead guilty to 7 counts including theft of government money and possession of stolen Treasury checks and Fambro-Echols plead guilty to conspiracy and theft of government money. The non-postal worker conspirators —Wendy Frasier, Daralyn M. Weaver, Jabril O. McKee Ohmar D. Braden (all from Georgia) — plead guilty to various kinds of illegal behavior including conspiracy, possession of stolen Treasury checks and aggravated identity theft.
The charges, according to the attorney’s office, carry maximum sentences ranging from 5 to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1,000,000 per count. Identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years on top of any other sentence.