Tyler E. Blazina Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on February 4, 2011, before Judge Richard C. Tallman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who was presiding for U.S. District Court Judge Richard F. Cebull, TYLER E. BLAZINA, a 36-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to theft of mail by a postal employee. Sentencing has been set for May 13, 2011. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
In the fall of 2010, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General received several reports of missing mail parcels containing prescription medication sent by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Tracking information on the VA parcels showed that they were received at the Billings Processing and Distribution Center, but were never scanned after that point in the distribution chain.
In response to the missing packages, law enforcement performed surveillance at the Billings Processing and Distribution Center on October 24, 2010. Agents observed U.S. Postal Service employee BLAZINA rummaging through open bins of parcels in an area of the Post Office where no mail processing was currently underway. Agents observed BLAZINA putting nine first class letters and one small package into his pockets and socks. BLAZINA was employed as a U.S. Postal Service casual mail handler since January of 2009. A casual distribution clerk performs duties specified by U.S. Postal Service management including the sorting of U.S. Mail in U.S. Postal Service facilities.
Agents approached BLAZINA at the end of his shift at the Post Office. BLAZINA gave agents the first class letters in his pockets and socks. BLAZINA also provided agents with an additional fourteen first class letters and two first class parcels from his locker at the Post Office. The two parcels were unopened but each appeared to be a bottle of pills based on the shape of the packages and the sound made by shaking each of the packages. All of the letters and packages were addressed to someone other than BLAZINA.
BLAZINA told agents he started stealing mail in approximately September 2010 to supply his drug addiction. BLAZINA estimated he normally stole two to three pieces of mail per day. BLAZINA reported he used all of the cash stolen from letters to supply his drug habit. BLAZINA estimated he stole packages containing prescription medications once or twice a week. He primarily looked for hydrocodone in mail parcels. BLAZINA estimated he had stolen 100 pieces of mail since September 2010. Agents were able to confirm BLAZINA had stolen at least 60 pieces of mail.
BLAZINA faces possible penalties of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Office of Inspector General.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.