A US Postal Service employee in New York was charged after his employers discovered stashes of undelivered mail in his vehicle and home.
A mail carrier in Brooklyn stashed about 17,000 pieces of undelivered mail for more than a decade because he was “overwhelmed” by the amount he had to deliver, authorities said.
The carrier, Aleksey Germash, told investigators he “made sure to deliver the important mail,” according to a complaint filed in federal court.
Germash, a Postal Service employee for more than 16 years, was charged on Thursday with detaining and delaying mail.
The service’s Office of Inspector General received a tip this month about a Nissan Pathfinder parked in Brooklyn with mailbags stuffed inside. When Postal Service agents visited the location, they found 20 blue post office bags packed with undelivered mail inside the vehicle.
Agents determined Germash, who worked at the post office in the Dyker Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn, was the employee who lived closest to where the vehicle was found, the complaint said.
When investigators interviewed Germash, he said the vehicle was his and that he had hoarded the mail because he was overcome by how much he had to deliver, according to the complaint.
The amount of undelivered mail investigators retrieved was staggering: 10,000 pieces inside his vehicle, 6,000 in his apartment and 1,000 in his work locker. At least one item was postmarked in 2005, according to the complaint.
Germash was released on US$25,000 (AU$32,000) bail. His lawyer, Michelle A. Gelernt, declined to comment on Saturday. Germash could not be reached on Saturday.
It was unclear what kind of mail Germash failed to deliver or if the retrieved mail would be delivered to its recipients. In past cases, the Postal Service has said recovered letters and packages in good condition were to be delivered. A spokesman for the Postal Service could not be reached on Saturday.
Theft of mail by postal employees is not uncommon in a system that delivers more than 154 billion pieces each year and has nearly 336,900 mail carriers. The Postal Service investigated 1,364 employee mail cases and arrested 409 employees between October 2016 and September 2017, according to the service.
The majority of workers deliver mail intact, but “a small number of employees abuse the public’s trust by delaying or stealing the mail,” the Postal Service said on its website. Some of the most egregious cases involve the theft of valuables like jewellery, money orders and bank checks, though abandoning thousands of letters and packages and hoarding them is not unheard-of.
In 2014, a Brooklyn mail carrier was discovered to have hidden 40,000 pieces of undelivered mail — a total of 2,500 pounds — over nine years. The carrier, Joseph Brucato, blamed excessive consumption of alcohol and depression. In 2015 a postal worker in Philadelphia failed to deliver more than 20,000 pieces of mail on his route and instead cached them in his car and home.
The phenomenon isn’t new. In an article headlined “A Lazy Letter-Carrier,” The New York Times in 1874 reported on the arrest of a Rhode Island mail carrier who dumped 200 letters into a dock “to avoid the trouble of delivery.”