News

Former Postal Employee Sentenced to Prison for Theft of Mail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake, sentenced James M. Russell, age 49, of Brandywine, Maryland, today to six months in prison, followed by six months of home detention and two years of supervised release, for theft of mail while he was employed by the U.S. Postal Service. Judge Blake also ordered Russell to perform 100 hours of community service.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Joanne Yarbrough of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

Joanne Yarbrough, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General said, “Postal Service employees hold a position of public trust and the large majority of employees, with few exceptions, take this responsibility very seriously. Unfortunately, in this case, that trust was broken. The Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively investigate complaints of mail theft and serious misconduct by Postal Service employees.”

According to court documents, from October 1998 until his arrest on November 9, 2010, Russell worked as a motor vehicle operator for the U.S. Postal Service. His duties included off-loading mail containers from his vehicle to the facility where the mail was being delivered, which gave him access to areas of the workroom floor at the Northwood Station post office. Following several days of surveillance where Russell was seen stealing parcels from carrier hampers, taking them to his truck, then dumping the remnants of the packages in a dumpster or wooded area near the Northwood Station post office, Russell was arrested and suspended without pay.

Further investigation and review of surveillance video over the year for which it was available showed that on at least 50 occasions, since early November 2009, Russell had been entering the workroom floor at the Northwood Station when no other postal employees were around, rifling through mail carrier hampers and selecting parcels that looked like they might contain something of value. Russell was seen on the video placing those parcels into white Postal Service flat boxes or in his coat and then leaving the station. Between July 30, 2009 and November 2010, more than 200 identifiable remnants of parcels were recovered from the same dump area where postal agents saw Russell dump parcels in November 2010. Video surveillance also showed Russell’s work truck slowing and stopping near the dump site on multiple occasions. The packaging and invoices recovered indicate the type of items stolen included DVDs, CDs, books, jewelry, and other items shipped in small parcels.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kristi N. O’Malley, who prosecuted the case.

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