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Press Release

Philadelphia Man Sentenced to 36 months in Prison for Robbing a Postal Carrier, Mail Theft, and Check-Washing Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Co-conspirator sentenced to 33 months in prison; another awaits sentencing

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Sam Wolo, 23, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced today by United States District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond to 36 months for his role in a scheme to steal checks from the United States mail, and to then fraudulently alter and deposit the stolen checks.

Co-conspirator Gransae Manue, 22 of Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania, was sentenced on May 2 to 33 months’ imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and restitution of $42,184.

Co-conspirator Bruno Nyanue, 22, of Philadelphia, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 12.

All three men admitted to their roles in the conspiracy, with Nyanue pleading guilty on November 8, 2023, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit mail theft, possession of stolen mail, and robbery of a postal carrier. Wolo pleaded guilty on December 5, 2023, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit mail theft, possession of stolen mail, and robbery of a postal carrier, and Manue pleaded guilty on January 10, 2024, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit mail theft, possession of stolen mail, and robbery of a postal carrier.

On December 22, 2021, the co-conspirators had forcibly robbed a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) letter carrier of his Arrow Key, used by letter carriers to access blue USPS collection boxes along their routes. The Arrow Key stolen by the defendants opened collection boxes in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and the three used it repeatedly to steal mail from boxes in that area.

Between December 2021 and February 2022, the co-conspirators “washed” and altered checks they stole from the mail that belonged to victims who had mailed checks in Drexel Hill. The defendants altered the stolen checks to make them payable to third parties, often in amounts greater than the checks’ original value, without the victims’ knowledge or consent. As part of the scheme, the defendants deposited the fraudulently washed and altered checks into those third-party accounts, and in at least some instances, withdrew some of the fraudulently deposited funds. Approximately 370 stolen checks and nine stolen money orders were recovered from defendant Wolo’s apartment. The Arrow Key stolen by the defendants from the USPS letter carrier in Drexel Hill, as well as two stolen checks and two money orders, were also recovered from defendant Wolo’s vehicle.  Altogether, the value of stolen checks and money orders recovered from defendant Wolo’s apartment and car totaled more than $171,000.

"The United States Postal Service is vital to American life, delivering essential items such as income, bills, and expenses," said U.S. Attorney Romero. "Today's sentence reflects the serious consequences that await those who compromise the security of our mail system. We ask everyone to help support this critical service and maintain the integrity of our mail system by reporting any suspicious activity as we work together to keep our mail safe and secure."

“Sam Wolo, Gransae Manue, and Bruno Nyanue are being held accountable for their roles in robbing a Postal Service carrier of postal keys, stealing checks out of the U.S. mail, and fraudulently trying to pass those checks through the financial system,” said Christopher Nielsen, Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division for the Postal Inspection Service.  “Along with our law enforcement partners, Inspectors will work relentlessly to hold accountable individuals who bring violence and theft onto the Postal Service and its customers.  I want to thank the investigators from the Philadelphia Police Department and the Upper Darby Police Department, along with the Inspectors from the Philadelphia Division, for identifying and apprehending these suspects.  I also want to acknowledge the efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecuting these three individuals.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Upper Darby Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eileen Castilla Geiger.

Updated May 23, 2024

Financial Fraud