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Third man charged with stamp machine theft

The men took the device from the post office on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, police say.

By MICHAEL SANDLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


TAMPA PALMS -- The case of the vanishing stamp machine yielded a third suspect this month when authorities added an incarcerated Pasco man to the list of those charged with the new year's crime.

Postal inspectors and Tampa police charged Christopher Bradley, 33, with grand theft and burglary on Feb. 1 for his role in the theft, said Linda Walker, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Walker said Bradley confessed during a Jan. 29 interview at the Pasco County Jail, where he is being held on unrelated charges of grand theft and cocaine possession.

Inspectors learned of his role during an interview with Calvin Stephenson, 20, of Tampa, and Benson Price Jr., 30, of Seffner, the other men charged with the crime. They confessed on Jan. 12 at the Pinellas County Jail, where they were being held on prior grand theft charges.

According to Tampa police, the men entered the post office on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard during new year's weekend, pried a stamp dispenser loose from the wall and carried off the 125-pound vending machine and its contents.

Walker said the men told inspectors they stole the machine, filled with an unknown amount of stamps and currency, to use its contents to buy drugs. Authorities later recovered it, in a state beyond repair, from a field across from the Faulkenburg Road Jail.

Postal inspectors belong to a federal branch of law enforcement authorized to make arrests.

- Michael Sandler can be reached at (813) 226-3472 or sandler@sptimes.com.

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