MOBILE, AL – A federal jury convicted a Mobile woman this week for conspiracy, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and theft of a United States Postal Service (“USPS”) key.
According to court documents and evidence presented at a three-day trial, Kristen Arieale Williams, 31, was employed as a mail carrier at the post office in Prichard. The jury heard evidence that in late October 2022, Williams stole and sold a USPS “arrow” key to a coconspirator. Arrow keys are government property and will open, among other things, all blue USPS collection boxes in a particular geographic area. Stealing and possessing such a key with fraudulent intent is a federal crime. Williams’s coconspirator, who previously pleaded guilty to bank-fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, paid Williams $2,500 in cash for the key. Law enforcement caught Williams’s coconspirator using the key to steal mail from collection boxes outside the Bel Air Mall in Mobile in November 2022. The coconspirator stole hundreds of pieces of mail using the key.
The jury also heard evidence that Williams conspired to commit bank fraud involving counterfeit checks deposited into her bank account. The counterfeit checks were derived from checks stolen from the mail. The checks bore the true names, addresses, and bank account numbers of multiple victims who testified at trial. Among other evidence, the jury reviewed call logs, text messages, pictures, videos, and other data extracted from Williams’s cell phone and the cell phone of a coconspirator. That evidence included a string of text messages that Williams sent in March 2023 regarding the arrow key that she stole and sold in October 2022. In that exchange, which Williams later deleted, Williams stated that she “went through so much anxiety the last time” she stole a key and noted that the Prichard post office was “very strict about it now.” The jury also heard excerpts of a recorded confession that Williams gave to law enforcement in March 2023, during which she admitted that did “illegal stuff” and lied about it to federal agents.
Williams will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose in February 2024. Williams is subject to a mandatory two-year prison sentence for her aggravated identity theft conviction, which must run consecutively to any other sentence she receives. She faces up to 30 years in prison for her conspiracy and bank-fraud convictions, and up to 10 years in prison for stealing and selling an arrow key. Williams will also be ordered to pay restitution to her victims.
U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello of the Southern District of Alabama made the announcement.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the USPS–Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Mobile Police Department are investigating the case. The Brewton Police Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration–Office of Inspector General provided substantial assistance in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Roller is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.