Two United States Postal Service Employees And One Contractor Arrested
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico– On June 15, 2016, a Federal grand jury returned three separate indictments charging Travis L. Wilkerson, Jean Ostolaza-Cruz and Rubén Bautista-Alcántara with theft of government property, among other charges, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General is in charge of the investigation with the collaboration of the Puerto Rico Police Department.
Former USPS employee City Carrier Travis L. Wilkerson was charged with two counts of false statements to the Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Workers Compensation Program (DOL OWCP), two counts of false statements and fraud to obtain federal employees’ compensation, and one count of theft of government property. Travis L. Wilkerson alleged that he suffered an on the job injury on September 27, 2010. After returning to work, on February 22, 2012, Wilkerson alleged that he suffered a recurrence of the 2010 injury. Since February 22, 2012, Wilkerson has been receiving OWCP compensation benefits. On February 1, 2016 and on April 3, 2016, Wilkerson certified in the annual DOL EN-1032 Form that he was not employed, self-employed or involved in a business enterprise. According to the investigation conducted by the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG), while receiving OWCP benefits, Wilkerson has been actively engaged in Wilkerson-Farms, a business that he owns that is dedicated to the sales and distribution of coffee, fruits and vegetables to the United States. The amount of compensation benefits that Wilkerson received illegally is approximately $30,685.00.
USPS Sales and Service/Distribution Associate Jean Ostolaza-Cruz faces charges of theft of government property and theft of USPS property. Jean Ostolaza-Cruz stole money orders and Collect on Delivery (CODs) funds while working at the Sabana Hoyos Post Office and Florida Post Office. Ostolaza-Cruz took money orders that were accountable to him in Sabana Hoyos Post Office and fraudulently imprinted and cashed them at the Florida Post Office. As part of the scheme, Ostolaza-Cruz unlawfully used the personal identifiable information of Sabana Hoyos Post Office customers to cash the money orders for his own use. In addition, Ostolaza-Cruz stole money from the CODs payments made by USPS customers for his personal use. The amount of property stolen by Ostolaza-Cruz is approximately $11, 562.07.
USPS Contractor Rubén Bautista-Alcántara was charged with 33 counts of mail theft and 33 counts of obstruction of correspondence. Since May 2015, USPS OIG received numerous inbound greeting cards that appeared to be previously opened and resealed and that were destined to be processed at San Juan GPO. As part of the investigation, on December 23, 2015, a Puerto Rico Police Department Officer who assisted the USPS OIG, conducted surveillance at the Muñoz Rivera Avenue and Margarita Street in Río Piedras, PR and observed an individual depositing greeting cards, that seemed to be previously opened and resealed. Upon investigation, this subject was later identified as Rubén Bautista-Alcántara, a Contract Mail Handler employed by Cargo Force, Inc., a USPS authorized depository located in Carolina, PR.
These cases are being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Soto. Wilkerson and Ostolaza-Cruz are facing up to 10 years in prison for the theft of government property charges. Ostolaza-Cruz is also facing a two-year mandatory sentence for charges of aggravated identity theft. Bautista-Alcántara is facing up to five years in prison for the charges of obstruction of correspondence and mail theft.
Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty. The investigation is ongoing.