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Dec. 9, 2010

TWO HOUSTON MEN CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO STEAL MAIL FROM POSTAL COLLECTION BOXES

(HOUSTON) – A Houston grand jury has returned a superseding indictment charging Rhett Daniel Stringer and Morgan Michael Pratka with conspiracy to steal mail and possessing stolen mail, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The indictment was returned today.

Stringer, 32, originally arrested and charged by criminal complaint in September 2010, was indicted in October 2010 and charged with  possessing stolen mail. Pratka, 28, was charged separately by criminal complaint in November 2010 with the same offense. Today’s four count superseding indictment joins the two defendants charging both with conspiring together to steal U.S. mail and several counts of possessing money orders stolen from the U.S. mail. Stringer has been in federal custody without bond since his September 2010 arrest and is expected to appear for arraignment on the new charges on a late to be set by the court in the near future. Pratka, who was released on bond following his arrest, is a fugitive. A warrant has issued for his arrest.

Stringer and Pratka are charged with stealing mail from postal collection boxes outside of a dozen postal stations including the Cornerstone, Fleetwood Deborah Sue Schatz, James Griffin, Memorial Park, Oak Forest, Westfield and Willow Place Postal Stations and the Post Office in Cyress, Katy and Tomball. According to the indictment, between May and September 2010, Stringer and Pratka allegedly broke-in to postal collection boxes outside of the postal stations and stole money orders from letters deposited in the collections boxes by postal customers, which they later chemically washed, altered and deposited into their bank accounts. The remaining three counts of the indictment accuse Stringer (counts 2 and 4) and Pratka (count 3) of unlawfully possessing money orders stolen from the collection boxes on specific dates between July 2010 and September 2010.

"Most criminals avoid stealing mail because they know it is a federal offense that Postal Inspectors have investigated very successfully for more than 200 years and that success continues, " said Gary Barksdale, Postal Inspector in Charge in Houston."Postal Inspectors are actively looking for Pratka now." 

Conspiracy to steal the U.S. mail and possession of stolen mail each carry a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment without parole and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.   

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by postal inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). Anyone having information regarding the whereabouts of Morgan Michael Pratka (photo attached), is asked to contact the USPIS at (877) 696-5322. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Andino Reynal is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

 

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