Kathy Gross was indicted in U.S. District Court in Greeneville in March 2016 on two charges: knowingly and willfully obstructing the passage of U.S. mail and unlawfully delaying a package or mail in her possession.
Gross pleaded guilty to the obstruction charge in September and was sentenced in federal court last week. Judge Ronnie Greer sentenced Gross to two years probation and 150 hours of community service.
She faced up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Gross said in court records a pending divorce, anxiety and depression were the reasons why she failed to deliver the mail.
“It is clear Ms. Gross did not commit the offense for any financial gain,” according to the sentencing memorandum. “She has recently remarried, and she has strong family support.”
According to court records, Gross began working for the U.S. Postal Service in November 2014 and around that time was the first time she delayed the mail. It involved a tub of Blue Cross Blue Shield packages.
A year later, the U.S. Postal Service office of inspector general began an investigation regarding a series of exceptionally late parcel delivery scans made by Gross. Special agents reviewed Gross' scanning history and found she failed to complete the delivery of an entire route, missed multiple parcel scans and caused the misplacement of a piece of express mail.
Upon further review, special agents found numerous instances of parcels being scanned after 1 a.m. from inside the Blountville post office. Around that same time, Gross’ husband, Andrew, contacted law enforcement about discovering several trays of undelivered mail inside his Island Road home in Blountville.
According to court records, Andrew Gross told law enforcement he had not been in the house since he and his wife separated in June 2015, saying when he went in he found trays, loose bundles, full trash bags and torn and scattered mail all over the floors of the two bedrooms.
Mail was hidden under clothes and blankets and Andrew Gross told officials about bundles of papers, still strapped, in trash bags behind the side of the house. All of the mail was eventually gathered up, taken to Blountville and re-delivered to customers.
In an interview with postal officials, Kathy Gross said the reason she didn't deliver the mail was because she was going through a rough time in her life, suffering from a deep depression and anxiety because her husband was unfaithful.
She continued by saying she was going through a divorce and raising three children and had been stressed and emotionally unstable since she had been working for the postal service.
Kathy Gross claimed she never burned or threw away any mail, nor did she open any or take any of the contents.
According to court records, Kathy Gross failed to deliver nearly 2,700 pieces of mail. This amount does not include a trash bag of circulars that was discovered lying outside the home because its contents were destroyed by the elements over time.