News and Press Releases

Melrose Man Sentenced for Removing Items From Mail

June 13, 2012

Madison, Wis. - John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Robert Ernstes, 50, of Melrose, Wis., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to 10 months in prison for removing items from mail and failing to deliver mail. This prison term will be followed by a three-year period of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution. A restitution hearing was set for September 5, 2012. Ernstes pleaded guilty to these crimes on March 1, 2012.

In February 2011, a postal customer reported that he mailed eight greeting cards containing $2 bills to his grandchildren. Some of the cards were opened and the $2 bills were missing. Based on the address from which the cards were mailed, it was determined that Ernstes was the carrier that covered that route.

Based on complaints about Ernstes, a piece of test mail was put into the system on May 2, 2011. Ernstes took this piece of mail home with him and agents ultimately ended up searching his car, home, and garage and found approximately 9,000 pieces of mail that Ernstes had stolen, dating back to November 2008. The vast majority of mail was discovered intact although some pieces had been opened.

In sentencing Ernstes, Judge Crabb noted that Ernstes was hired into a position of trust and the idea that someone was taking letters that a citizen wrote was abhorrent. She also noted that it appeared the defendant was motived by greed and a desire for a better lifestyle.

The charges against Ernstes were the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman.


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