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Mail carrier stole gift cards from Christmas letters

Matthew Lane • Jan 14, 2016 at 6:00 PM

GREENEVILLE — An East Tennessee mail carrier who stole Walmart gift cards from letters sent during the 2014 Christmas season has agreed to plead guilty to the charge in federal court.

Willard Robert Brown was a contractor with the U.S. Postal Service responsible for delivering mail in Russellville, Tenn. Brown was charged with possession of stolen mail in a one-count information in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on Tuesday.

A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Feb. 1. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the plea agreement, the USPS Office of Inspector General began an investigation into the stolen mail matter after hearing reports of missing parcels from five residents in Bulls Gap and two more in Russellville.

All of the reports were from customers on Brown’s mail route.

Postal inspectors investigated the complaints and learned that several Walmart gift cards were not received by their intended recipients. Four of the gift cards — totaling $150 — were presented at the Walmart in Newport on Dec. 20, 2014.

In January 2015, Walmart employees provided postal inspectors with a receipt showing the gift cards were used, along with video surveillance images of Brown and his wife using the four gift cards during a single transaction.

Walmart also provided parking lot surveillance of the white pickup Brown was driving.

Postal inspectors interviewed Brown in January 2015, and he reportedly admitted stealing mail, including the Christmas cards containing the gift cards, during several weeks around the holiday season in 2014 and then using the gift cards.

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