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April 23, 2010


(HOUSTON) – A former 20-year postal employee has pleaded guilty to stealing money from the U.S. Mail while on duty, United States Attorney Josè Angel Moreno announced today.

Betty Jo Patterson, 52, of Houston, was indicted on March 17, 2010, and charged with one count of theft of a mail by a postal employee. Today, Patterson pleaded guilty to the federal felony charge before U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr.,admitting to stealing money placed in envelopes which came into her possession while a postal employee.

The investigation conducted by U.S. Postal Service (USPS) inspectors leading to the charges against Patterson began Oct. 24, 2008, after a customer complained to USPS that a letter mailed to his daughter which contained $10 cash and a $20 gift card had not been delivered. For several weeks thereafter, in late 2008, postal inspectors began to monitor the mail route of Patterson. Patterson came to the attention of the inspectors after an envelope they sent through the mail along Patterson’s route containing cash and a gift card was not received by the postmaster. A USPS inspector later posed as a customer and handed Patterson an envelope to be returned to the post office for delivery. Inside the envelope was $90 cash. Within approximately two minutes, inspectors learned that the letter had been opened. Inspectors recovered the $90 inside Patterson’s pants pocket.

Following her Nov. 21, 2008, arrest, Patterson confessed her thefts to USPS inspectors. Patterson admitted opening the prepped envelope as well as opening approximately 10 letters over the previous month containing $50-$60.
Freed on bond since her arrest, Patterson has been permitted to remain on bond pending her sentencing. Judge Werlein, who accepted Patterson’s guilty plea, has set sentencing for Aug. 6, 2010. A conviction for theft of a mail by a postal employee carries a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant United States Attorney Mark E. Donnelly is prosecuting the case.



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