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Danbury Postmaster Admits Operating Bribery, Kickback, and Embezzlement Scheme

October 16, 2023

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » United States Department of Justice

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Kenneth Cleevely, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and Robert Fuller, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that on October 13, 2023, EPHREM D. NGUYEN, 50, formerly of Brookfield, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to a fraud offense stemming from a bribery, kickback, and embezzlement scheme he operated while serving as the Postmaster of the Danbury Post Office.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Nguyen was employed by the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”) as the Postmaster of the Danbury Post Office in Danbury, with responsibilities that included supervising the maintenance and repair of all equipment, facilities, and vehicles assigned to the post office.  In November 2020, Nguyen required that all Danbury Post Office vehicle maintenance and repair work be performed by a certain vendor, even though Nguyen knew that another vendor already had a contract for with the Danbury Post Office for those services.  Nguyen demanded that the vendor provide free vehicle maintenance and repairs for himself, one of his children, a USPS employee, and employee of Nguyen’s personal business.  In 2022, Nguyen solicited and received $90,000 in cash bribes from the vendor.  In exchange for these bribes, Nguyen caused the USPS to overpay the vendor for vehicle maintenance and repair, which Nguyen characterized as a  “raise.”  Between approximately January 2022 and February 2023, Nguyen used USPS credit cards to pay the vendor more than $1 million, or approximately $760,000 more than necessary to pay for legitimate maintenance and repair work.

In addition, Nguyen embezzled more than $80,000 from the USPS by using his USPS credit cards to rent vehicles for the personal use of himself and others, and he approved more than $8,000 in fraudulent travel expense reimbursement claims for a co-worker.

Through these schemes, Nguyen defrauded the USPS of approximately $874,930.59.

“As federal employees, we take an oath to protect the public, including funds that have been allocated for federal services,” said U.S. Attorney Avery.  “This corrupt employee operated a brazen bribery, kickback, and embezzlement scheme that defrauded the U.S. Postal Service of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  I commend the USPS Office of Inspector General and the FBI for their excellent work in this investigation.”

“The public must have confidence that Postal Service employees will conduct their work in an honest manner,” said Kenneth Cleevely, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General.  “When employees commit serious offenses, such as taking bribes, they will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted.  We are gratified to have contributed to this investigation and applaud the exceptional work by the United States Attorney’s Office for assuring that there is no place for public corruption anywhere within the Postal Service.”

“Investigations into the breach of public trust by government employees are a top priority for the FBI, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Fuller.  “We would like to extend our appreciation to the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General for the excellent collaboration that led to this individual being brought to justice.  We hope the results of this case and similar previous cases will send a clear message to anyone engaging in fraudulent government activities.”

Nguyen pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.  Judge Underhill scheduled sentencing for January 5, 2024.

Nguyen who is currently residing in Quincy, Massachusetts, is released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan N. Francis.

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