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June 16, 2009

CONSPIRATOR INVOLVED IN APARMENT MAIL BOX BREAK INS PLEADS TO ACCESS DEVICE FRAUD

(HOUSTON) – Anthony Cole Bridges, 32, of Bryan, Texas, the second of two charged with mail theft and access device fraud, has been convicted, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

Bridges, along with a co-conspirator, Bruce Dewayne Pivonka, 39, were each originally indicted and charged with two counts of mail theft and one count of access device fraud on Dec. 10, 2008.

On Fri., June 12, Bridges pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud before United States District Judge Melinda Harmon. He now faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Judge Harmon, who accepted Bridges’ guilty plea, has set sentencing for Sept. 4, 2009.

On April 9, 2008, a witness in Bryan, Texas, observed an individual driving around breaking into apartment mailbox panels and residential curbside mailboxes stealing mail. The driver of the vehicle was stopped by College Station, Texas, police officers as it crossed into their city limits and identified as Pivonka along with one other female passenger. A large amount of rifled mail was visible in plain sight on the front and rear passenger side floorboard areas. Pivonka gave consent to search his vehicle and officers recovered stolen mail, stolen driver’s licenses, stolen Social Security cards and other items from the vehicle. An inventory search of the suspect vehicle and items within the vehicle resulted in the recovery of AT&T rebate forms, personal checks, blank books of checks, a Wells Fargo Visa card, blank balance transfer checks issued by credit card companies allowing access to the victims’ account number/credit line, savings and checking account statements with account number and balance information, pre-approved credit applications and stolen treasury checks. In total, more than 130 stolen mail pieces were recovered, not including catalogs, flyers and other bulk mail, most of which had been opened. These mail pieces included unauthorized access devices affecting interstate commerce. When interviewed, Bridges admitted to the mail thefts and Pivonka admitted to driving Bridges to various locations to steal mail. Bridges knew that the mail pieces in the car driven by Pivonka were stolen.

Bridges has been in federal custody since his arrest on April 8, 2009, and will remain in custody pending sentencing. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a three-year-term of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine for his count of conviction.

Pivonka pleaded to all three counts of the indictment on March 6, 2009, and is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 25, 2009. He faces the same 10-year maximum on the access device fraud conviction as Bridges as well as up to five years imprisonment for each of the two counts of conviction for possession of stolen mail. All three counts of conviction also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 and a three-year-term of supervised release. Pivonka remains on bond pending his sentencing.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Tammie Y. Moore.

 

 

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