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Four U.S. Postal Service Employees Indicted and Arrested for Delay of Election Mail

March 14, 2024

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » United States Department of Justice

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On March 7, 2024, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned four indictments charging four U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees assigned to the 65th Infantry Postal Office in San Juan, Puerto Rico with delay of mail in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1703(a), announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

The USPS is responsible for transporting and delivering absentee and early voter ballots in Puerto Rico, which is recognized by the USPS as election mail.  In September 2022, the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission (“Commission”) conducted a Special Election for the San Juan, Puerto Rico District 1 Senate vacancy. As part of the Commission’s services provided for the Special Election, in August 2022, the Administrative Board of Absent Voting and Early Voting (“Junta Administrativa de Voto Ausente y Voto Adelantado” (“JAVAA”)) mailed ballots to certain eligible voters in Puerto Rico, via USPS certified mail service.

Four individual mail carriers, employed by the USPS, delayed and did not deliver a total of forty pieces of election mail from the September 2022 Special Election to domiciled active voters in San Juan. More specifically:

  1. On August 5, 2022, Christian Benny Díaz-Nieves, a postal Carrier Technician, unlawfully delayed and did not deliver twenty-two pieces of election mail;
  2. On August 6, 2022, Jonathan David Javier-Pinango, a postal City Carrier Assistant 1, unlawfully delayed and did not deliver twelve pieces of election mail;
  3. On August 5, 2022, Michael Negrón-Cabrera, a postal City Carrier Assistant 1, unlawfully delayed and did not deliver one piece of election mail; and
  4. From August 5, 2022 through August 15, 2022, María De Lourdes Martínez-Garriga, a postal City Carrier, unlawfully delayed and did not deliver five pieces of election mail.

Each USPS employee was charged separately with unlawful delay of mail and has not been charged with participating in a conspiracy or a scheme to impact the Special Election. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG) is investigating the case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), consistent with the mission to ensure efficiency, accountability, and integrity in the U.S. Postal Service.

“Our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot and to have that ballot counted. If voters do not receive their ballots, they cannot execute one of our fundamental rights as United States citizens, the right to vote,” said United States Attorney Muldrow. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office along with our law enforcement partners will continue to protect this fundamental pillar of our society.”

“Voting allows individuals to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives and communities, and it is a powerful tool for promoting social change. Without the right to vote, marginalized groups may be further excluded from the political process, perpetuating inequality and injustice, which is why equal access is crucial and why we have this option to receive the ballot by mail,” said Joseph González, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office. “Public officials across all government agencies must understand that they are held to a higher standard. The people depend on us, and those unwilling to execute their duties only hurt the communities we are meant to serve. I want to thank the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission for quickly reporting this and our valued colleagues at the US Postal Service OIG, who never hesitate to do the right thing.”

The defendants are scheduled for their initial court appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Giselle López-Soler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Colón and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Tania Salas-De Jesús from the USPS-OIG are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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