Three Airline Baggage Handlers and Business Owner Sentenced for Theft of Registered Mail
Owner of “We Buy Gold” Store Bought Stolen Items and Lied to Postal Inspectors
ATLANTA, GA - TERRENCE LANGFORD, 26, of Atlanta, Georgia, DOMINIC GITTENS, 21, of Winston, Georgia, SHAWN EDWARDS, 39, of Decatur, Georgia, and ERIN HACKNEY, 39, of Atlanta, Georgia were sentenced today by United States District Judge Julie E. Carnes on charges arising from a scheme to steal shipments of registered mail.
“The United States mail system must be protected from thieves like defendants Langford, Gittens, and Edwards who stole registered mail shipments that contained hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold bars, gold coins, jewelry, and even cremated human remains, for which they showed complete disregard,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Their thievery was compounded and even encouraged by defendant Hackney’s willingness to buy the stolen gold, gold coins, and jewelry. Thankfully, due to the diligent work of Postal Inspectors, this ring of thieves has met its end.”
“The protection of the U.S. Mail is one of our top priorities. We want the public to understand that the criminal actions of the defendants did not go unnoticed. Today’s sentences should be a reflection of that,” said Keith Morris, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division.
LANGFORD, GITTENS, and EDWARDS were sentenced for stealing registered mail shipments which were being shipped to Atlanta via commercial airline carriers:
LANGFORD was sentenced to 3 years, 1 month in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. LANGFORD was also ordered to pay $678,197.14 in restitution. LANGFORD was convicted of these charges on January 25, 2011, upon his plea of guilty.
GITTENS was sentenced to 2 years, 3 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. GITTENS was also ordered to pay $678,197.14 in restitution. GITTENS was convicted of these charges on January 3, 2011, upon his plea of guilty.
EDWARDS was sentenced to 3 years of probation. EDWARDS was convicted of these charges on January 3, 2011, upon his plea of guilty.
HACKNEY, the only defendant to go to trial, was sentenced to 1 year, 6 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. HACKNEY was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine. HACKNEY was convicted by a jury on January 25, 2012, of making a false statement to Postal Inspectors. HACKNEY was also charged with three counts of theft by receiving stolen property, however, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on those charges.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In August 2010, the Postal Inspection Service received numerous complaints that registered mail sent from Arizona was not received by the intended recipients throughout the southeastern United States. The Inspection Service determined that on July 31, August 14, and August 21, 2010, registered mail shipments bound for Atlanta from Phoenix, Arizona, via commercial airliner were never received by the Postal Service in Atlanta. The three shipments contained more than $600,000 worth of gold, gold coins, and expensive jewelry. The shipments also contained five packages containing cremated human remains.
On Saturday, September 18, 2010, Postal Inspectors in Phoenix placed a tracking device in a dummy registered mail container. They then watched as the dummy container and two other registered mail containers were placed on a flight bound for Atlanta. When the flight arrived in Atlanta, Postal Inspectors observed two Delta Global Services employees, EDWARDS and GITTENS, load all three registered mail containers into a van. GITTENS and LANGFORD then drove the van off the airport property. Inspectors followed the tracking device to the street where LANGFORD lived with his sister, but lost the signal before they could identify exactly where the containers went.
When GITTENS and EDWARDS returned to the airport, they were confronted by Postal Inspectors. Both confessed to stealing the registered mail containers. GITTENS also admitted that he and LANGFORD committed the thefts of the other three shipments. Both men stated that EDWARDS was only involved in the theft on September 18. GITTENS and EDWARDS told the inspectors that they took the containers to LANGFORD’s sister’s house where they met LANGFORD and he took possession of the stolen registered mail containers.
Postal Inspectors then confronted LANGFORD at his sister’s house. He also confessed and took the inspectors to a wooded area where he dumped the three registered mail containers that were stolen on September 18. He then took them to another wooded area where he had dumped some of the contents from the previous shipments. Other evidence connecting LANGFORD to the theft of the previous shipments was found at his sister’s house. However, the gold, gold coins, jewelry and other valuables from the three previous shipments were not recovered. And only one of the five packages containing cremated human remains was recovered.
LANGFORD and GITTENS both admitted that two or three weeks earlier they threw the other packages containing the cremated human remains into a trash dumpster at an apartment complex in northeast Atlanta. Although LANGFORD later took Postal Inspectors to the apartment complex, the inspectors were unable to recover the remains.
On September 18, 2010, LANGFORD also told Postal Inspectors that he sold nearly all of the stolen gold, gold coins and jewelry to HACKNEY who owned a We Buy Gold store on Old National Highway. On September 20, 2010, Postal Inspectors interviewed HACKNEY at his store. HACKNEY told the inspectors that he primarily purchased scrap gold jewelry at his business, and that he only occasionally purchased gold coins. HACKNEY denied that he had bought any significant quantity of gold, gold coins or expensive jewelry from anyone and specifically denied that he had bought gold, gold coins or expensive jewelry from LANGFORD. The Postal Inspectors showed HACKNEY a photograph of LANGFORD. HACKNEY denied that he had done business with the person depicted in the photograph.
This case was investigated by Postal Inspectors of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Assistant United States Attorneys William L. McKinnon, Jr., and Ellen Endrizzi prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney's Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.