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Postal workers face charges inthefts

Eight employees are accused of stealing various items, including cash, gift cards and a Louis Vuitton purse.

Published June 13, 2006

ORLANDO - Eight postal workers in Central Florida are facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing from the mail, prosecutors said.

The stolen items include a Louis Vuitton designer purse, cash and gift cards, according to court documents.

"Most postal employees are honest, hardworking people," Patricia Armstrong, a Washington spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service's law enforcement arm, told the Orlando Sentinel. "There are a few bad apples out there."

Authorities had received reports of delayed or stolen mail over the past two years that led to the charges.

The persons being charged, five in Orlando and three in Ocala, include mail carriers, route drivers and express mail distribution workers. At least one was a 29-year veteran of the Postal Service. Several more cases are expected.

The individuals, who were not arrested, face misdemeanor counts of delay or destruction of mail, punishable by up to a year in prison. They are scheduled to appear in federal court later this month.

"Everybody receives mail, and we're concerned for the security of the U.S. mail," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Adams, who is prosecuting the cases.

One worker allegedly took nine gift cards. Another apparently acknowledged opening 20 to 30 express mail envelopes and taking items on two occasions. In two cases, investigators were able to trace Wal-Mart gift cards intended for other recipients to purchases by Postal Service employees.

In 2002 and 2003 an employee at the main postal distribution center in Orlando helped a group of thieves steal high-valued registered mail items such as jewelry and $500,000 in cash. The employee let the group know when the fewest number of employees were at the facility and disengaged security gates to assist them.

The man behind the thefts, Errol Hardial, is on probation for two years after serving 26 months in federal prison on theft and embezzlement charges.

[Last modified June 13, 2006, 04:54:09]

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