CHICAGO — Former U.S. Postal Service employees are among eleven individuals charged with conspiring to steal credit cards and other financial instruments from the mail.
Law enforcement uncovered the 18-month conspiracy through a federal investigation dubbed Operation Cash on Delivery. The former USPS employees, who at the time worked as mail carriers in the Chicago area, stole credit cards and other financial instruments from the mail and provided them to others in exchange for cash or other items, according to a 20-count indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court in Chicago. Two of the defendants unlawfully obtained USPS customers’ personal identifying information, including dates of birth and Social Security numbers, which was then used to fraudulently activate the stolen cards and make purchases at various retailers, including Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, Walmart, and Meijer, the charges allege.
Many of the defendants were arrested Thursday and have begun making initial appearances in federal court in Chicago.
The indictment and arrests were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; William Hedrick, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago; Andre Martin, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Great Lakes Area Field Office of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General; and R. Sean Fitzgerald, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of Homeland Security Investigations. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shy Jackson and Paige Nutini, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Madrinan.
“Individuals who attempt to steal from the mail or illegally access personal identifying information must be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “Our office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute these serious offenses.”
“Postal Inspectors are committed to ensuring the public’s trust in the U.S. mail system,” said USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Hedrick. “The U.S. Postal Service relies on its employees to perform their duties with honor and pride. Postal Inspectors, along with our federal partners, bear the burden of holding responsible those individuals who compromise the security of the U.S. mail at the expense of the public. Furthermore, this investigation aims to restore the integrity of the mail and deliver justice to the victims of those arrested today.”
“These arrests represent our commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to maintain the integrity and trust in the U.S. mail,” said USPS-OIG SAC Martin. “The majority of postal employees are hard-working public servants dedicated to moving mail to its proper destination. The USPS OIG, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, remain committed to safeguarding the integrity of the U.S. mail and ensuring the accountability and integrity of U.S. Postal Service employees.”
“The actions in this case demonstrate our commitment to protecting our communities from criminal enterprises seeking to steal identities and defraud honest, hard-working people,” said HSI Acting SAC Fitzgerald. “HSI is proud of the work we’ve accomplished with our law enforcement partners in this investigation.”
Charged with conspiring to steal mail and commit unauthorized access device fraud are former USPS employees REBECCA OKUNOREN, 28, of Chicago, JESSICA JEFFERSON, 32, of Broadview, Ill., MONIQUE D. LOVE, 29, of Chicago, MYIESHA WEAVER, 34, of College Park, Ga., and DOMINIQUE SYKES, 28, of Chicago. Also charged in the conspiracy are DAVEY HINES, 28, of Naperville, Ill., BILLYE HARRIS, 26, of Harvey, Ill., TERRANCE SCALES, 29, of Chicago, STEPHON JOHNSON, 33, of Alsip, Ill., LOREAL ROSS, 31, of Chicago, and BRITTNAY P. SHEPARD, 28, of Chicago. Hines, Harris, Johnson, and Ross also face charges of unauthorized access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The federal investigation previously resulted in charges last summer against five other individuals, including four other former U.S. Postal Service employees.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.