Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
|A former postal carrier in Pewaukee received three years of probation after she stole over $6,200 from mail she was supposed to deliver. (Photo: MIKE BLAKE, Reuters)|
A former United States Postal Service mail carrier who worked in Pewaukee was sentenced to probation after she stole more than $6,200 from her victims.
Kelly Baxter, 28, was charged in a three-count indictment for mail theft by an employee after a 15-month practice of stealing gift cards and cash from mail that was her responsibility to deliver, according to federal court documents from the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
In a plea deal, Baxter pleaded guilty to the third count of the indictment and was sentenced to three years of probation to "pay back the restitution," according to defense attorney John Campion. Court documents noted at least 621 mail customers were victimized by Baxter between July 1, 2017, and Oct. 23, 2018.
According to the documents, in February 2018, the USPS Office of Inspector General began an investigation into numerous complaints from USPS customers about greeting cards that were missing or were received damaged, as well as missing items that had been mailed from the Pewaukee Post Office.
On Oct. 23, 2018, investigators conducted surveillance of Baxter at the Pewaukee Post Office. Before the surveillance, investigators prepared a piece of first-class mail that consisted of a greeting card in a yellow envelope that contained one $20 bill and a transmitter that would signal the agents when the envelope was opened and the money was removed.
Court documents said investigators watched as Baxter took all the mail for her route, then drove to a gas station in Pewaukee. At 10:40 a.m., signals alerted them that the piece of mail they had prepared had been opened, the documents said. When investigators contacted Baxter, she immediately handed over the opened envelope.
Two days later, on Oct. 25, Baxter's father, a former postal employee, told investigators he had found stolen mail at his residence in a vehicle used by Baxter. On that same day, Baxter admitted to opening 20 to 30 envelopes a week that contained gift cards and cash, according to court documents.
"She admitted to stealing approximately $200 to $300 per week from the mail entrusted to her," the documents stated.
Investigators recovered 780 envelopes from Baxter, according to court documents.
"The ripple effect from the thefts is far greater than the losses suffered by the 621 victims because the thefts undermine the public’s confidence in the US Postal Service, which is essential to our civic, economic, and private lives," stated Assistant United States Attorney William Lipscomb in a letter to U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper.
Lipscomb also noted in the letter that Baxter "has a significant substance abuse disorder that contributed" to the mail thefts, but that she had completed a inpatient treatment program before her trial and has been sober since the end of July.
"I can not express enough my sincere apologies for my actions," Baxter wrote to Pepper. "The guilt and shame has greatly taken over me this last year."
Contact Evan Frank at (262) 361-9138 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Evanfrank_LCP.
Right, probation. And people wonder why crime is spiking.