A Florida man has pleaded guilty to stealing dozens of letters that contained more than $170,000 in checks.
Court records show that the 34-year-old man was convicted of mail theft Wednesday in West Palm Beach federal court. He faces up to five years in prison at a Dec. 13 sentencing.
Prosecutors allege the man was doing lawn maintenance in July when he saw a resident drop a stack of envelopes into a mailbox. Investigators say the man took 39 checks valued at nearly $172,000 from the box.
The resident noticed the letters were gone while trying to mail another letter and contacted the carrier. A neighbor also called the police after seeing someone remove the letters.
The man was identified as a suspect, and the letters were recovered from his company’s work truck.
Stealing mail or obtaining it through means of fraud or deception is a serious federal crime that carries very real penalties. Even simply attempting to commit mail theft or having stolen mail, letters, or packages in your possession can lead to serious jail time and significant fines. For these reasons, if you are being investigated for mail theft, it is very important to seek the help of an experienced white collar crime lawyer who can help you establish a strong defense.
The U.S. Postal Service delivers advertisements, personal letters, and coupons, and it also transports valuable items, such as credit cards, checks, merchandise, and prescription medications. Congress made mail theft a federal offense to help stop the theft of these types of items. A piece of mail could be anything from a postcard or a letter to a package or a mail bag. To be charged with this crime, you do not even have to keep the mail that was taken. Purchasing, receiving, possessing, destroying, and hiding mail that someone knew was stolen also falls under the broad category of mail theft.
Under United States Code 18 Section 1708, federal mail theft is a felony. If you are convicted of mail theft, you can face up to five years in prison and a substantial fine of $250,000.
Under US Code 18 Section 1708, mail theft is defined as taking any piece of mail that is not your own for any purpose. A piece of mail can be any letter, postal card, package, box or bag. Mail theft can result from stealing from private mailboxes, collection boxes, postal workers or mail trucks.
Depending on how the crime of mail theft is carried out, you could also face other charges accompanying a mail theft charge, including assault and breaking and entering. If personal identifying information was stolen and used, you can also face charges of identity theft. Personal identifying information includes:
- Dates of birth
- Telephone numbers
- Tax I.D. numbers
- Social security numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- Passport information
- School I.D. numbers
- Employee I.D. numbers
- Bank account information
- Credit card account information
- Birth/death certificate information
Much like any other types of theft charges, ignorance is not an acceptable excuse to avoid guilt. So even just accepting stolen mail could result in charges being brought against you.
Federal prosecutors will give want you to give up quickly in these types of cases. That is why it is so important to have an attorney on your side to make sure your rights are protected and fight back against their accusations. As former prosecutors, we know where to find deficiencies and how to work with prosecutors and judges to achieve the best possible outcome.
If you or someone you love is facing a federal mail theft charge, it is crucial that you speak to our experienced South Florida Mail Fraud & Theft Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. We will fight for your legal rights and work hard to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Even if you are only under investigation, there are steps that an experienced lawyer can take to protect your rights. Do not wait until it is too late. Contact us for a free consultation and we can get to work investigating your case and building the strongest defense possible.