CHICAGO — Seven former U.S. Postal Service employees in the Chicago area have been charged with participating in schemes to steal credit cards and other financial instruments from the mail. The indictments are the latest charges in “Operation Cash on Delivery,” a federal investigation that previously resulted in conspiracy charges against several other former USPS employees.
Indictments unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago allege that credit cards and other financial instruments were stolen from the mail and provided to others in exchange for cash or other items. Some 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, the charges allege. The newly charged USPS employees delivered mail in Chicago or processed and sorted the mail at a USPS facility in suburban Palatine.
Many of the new defendants were arrested Tuesday and have begun making initial appearances in federal court in Chicago.
The indictments 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 Angie Salazar, 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 Madriñan.
Charged with conspiring to steal mail are former USPS employees CHARLESE BENNETT, 31, of Chicago; SHUNTONESE RICHARDSON, 24, of Willowbrook, Ill.; LATIYAH DAVIDSON, 28, of Chicago; C’ORY VONPIER MCNEAL, 32, of Atlanta, Ga.; BRANDY WALKER, 33, of Chicago; and ZAKEYA BLAKE, 24, of Hammond, Ind. Also charged in the conspiracy are DARAY ROSS HINES, 25, of Chicago; TRAMONT MILLER, 23, of Wheaton, Ill.; MAHLIK WASHINGTON, 30, of Chicago; and WILLIAM CRAWFORD, 33, of Chicago. Former USPS employee KENNETHIA HOWLEIT, 27, of Chicago, is charged with knowingly receiving and possessing stolen mail.
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.