A recent federal indictment charged three U.S. Postal employees for stealing packages of marijuana from the mail stream. According to the indictment, the three USPS employees stole the packages for resale. They then sold the packages to a fourth conspirator who sold the marijuana throughout Ohio.
The Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, David A. Sierleja, said the trio stole packages between February and May 2017. They set aside packages they thought contained marijuana, opened them, removed the drugs, and sold the stolen marijuana to the fourth employee. The indictment accused the three USPS employees of stealing 100 pounds of marijuana during the given timeframe.
The USPS employees worked at two separate USPS locations in Akron, Ohio. Two, Rabih Kairouz and Corey Turnbull, worked as supervisors at the Five Points Post Office. And the remaining USPS employee, Scott Gay, Jr., worked as a manager at the North Hill Post Office. Thus, the elevated training and skills, combined with two locations, they seized a significant number of packages from drug dealers, through their ability to intercept only profiled packages.
Sierleja explained that the three used their training for personal gain. “The employees are very skilled at identifying suspicious packages based on a specific set of criteria.” They stole the profiled packages and sold the marijuana to the fourth defendant, Anton D. Easter, Jr.
Easter then distributed the marijuana throughout Akron. And the USPS employees just rinsed and repeated until the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) came in and investigated. In a conversation with News 5, Special Agent Scott Balfour of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG) explained that that the employees were profiling packages and “were stealing packages from drug dealers and then selling them to other drug dealers.”
Court records revered that Turnbull was previously charged with marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession. Balfour touched on this and explained that the prior drug charges did not disqualify Turnbull from reaching the status of a USPS supervisor. Supervisors receive special training on customer service, along with spotting illegal activity. They are expected to work with local police in resolving any issues that may arise. They do not receive a gun.
“Depending on the offense, how long ago it was, the seriousness of the offense, what that person has done since the offense to rehabilitate themselves,” Balfour said, “That’s all taken into account [when applying for a position at the USPS].” Kairouz possessed one kilogram of methamphetamine, also stolen from the mail system, the indictment explained. He also had cash and a handgun.
The USPIS and USPS OIG launched a joint investigation with the Akron Police Department after receiving tips that notified them of suspicious behavior. Although only Post Office employees, USPIS agents have jurisdiction in the US, a badge, a gun, and the ability to carry out arrests. And after the investigation, USPIS officers, alongside the local police, carried out all for arrests. A federal court charged them shortly thereafter. And if the group truly operated from February to May 2017, this procedure unwound rapidly. The defendants’ have an upcoming jury trial on August 7.
The USPIS press release:
“The U.S. Postal Service is in business to deliver cards, letters, magazines, and parcels, not drugs. Nationwide, the Postal Service has over 600,000 employees who work hard to deliver America’s mail. Unfortunately, a few of them take advantage of their jobs for personal gain. In this case, a cooperative investigation between special agents with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Postal Inspection Service, and Akron Police Department was able to identify and put a stop to this criminal endeavor.”
Not long ago, another USPS employee helped a group traffic cocaine transcontinentally.
“I hope this serves as a deterrent to those postal employees who are out there, who may be doing this just to let them know that eventually, we’re going to catch up to you,” Balfour said.