Two Men Arrested for String of Thefts from U.S. Mail Stolen Items Include Diamonds, Electronics and Other Goods
Clive Bennett and Brian Wilson had their initial appearances yesterday before United States Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York, on a criminal complaint charging them with stealing thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, jewelry, electronics and other goods from express mail parcels at a U.S. postal facility at John F. Kennedy Airport (“JFK”), in Queens, New York.1 Both men were released on $100,000 bonds.
The charges and arrests were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ronald J. Verrochio, Postal Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
According to the complaint and information presented by the government at their court appearance, Bennett and Wilson are responsible for a string of more than a dozen thefts from express mail parcels which occurred between approximately January 12, 2012 and March 16, 2012. The men, who are not U.S. postal employees, work for a private company that provides mail-handling services in connection with the delivery of air mail to the Post Office. In early 2012, based on reports of missing items, Postal Inspectors, with substantial assistance from the FBI, launched an intensive investigation, reviewing hours of surveillance footage from the JFK postal facility and conducting surveillance of mail handlers over the course of several weeks. From concealed observation posts, Postal Inspectors observed the men and their work space, while FBI agents conducted additional surveillance operations aimed at recovering the stolen items. The investigation revealed numerous instances in which Bennett and Wilson moved express mail bags to isolated areas of their work space, where they rifled through parcels and removed items.
On March 20, 2012, Postal Inspectors and Special Agents of the FBI simultaneously executed search warrants and arrested both Bennett and Wilson. Items recovered during the searches included diamonds, jewelry and electronics that matched the descriptions of the items reported stolen. As set forth in the complaint, the stolen items included diamonds and jewelry valued by the senders at approximately $50,000, in addition to portable electronic devices, such as a Smart Phone and an i-Pod.
“The defendants allegedly stole valuable personal and commercial items from the U.S. mail, including diamonds, electronics and other merchandise. Such actions serve not only to stifle personal communication, but to choke the flow of commerce - the lifeblood of our economy. Individuals and businesses alike must be able to trust that their communications and packages will be safely and securely transported. We will take all steps necessary to protect the mail so the public can continue to rely on the U.S. Postal Service to safely transport letters and goods around the world,” stated United State Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Postal Inspectors and FBI agents, and added that the government’s investigation is continuing.
Postal Inspector-in-Charge Verrochio stated, “This is a textbook example of solid police work and teamwork on everyone’s part. We are proud to have prevented so many people from becoming further victimized, which could have caused considerable further financial damage and personal inconvenience.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk stated, “As the saying goes, neither snow nor rain will deter mail carriers from their appointed rounds. However, when criminals exploit their access to U.S. mail to steal it, it is up to the FBI and the Postal Inspection Service to catch them.”
Theft of items from the U.S. mail is punishable by up to 5 years’ imprisonment for each count of conviction.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth DuCharme and Justin Lerer.
The Department of Justice believes that it is important to keep victims/witnesses of federal crime informed of court proceedings and what services may be available to assist you.