In June, Phyllis Greene pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Greeneville to a one-count information charging her with delay or destruction of mail by a U.S. Postal Service employee. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer sentenced Greene to five years probation and ordered her to pay $2,100 in restitution.
Greene’s attorney, Wayne Culbertson, argued for a sentence of home detention and probation. Prosecutors, on the other hand, recommended a nine-month prison sentence for Greene.
“Such a sentence would afford deterrence to criminal conduct by the defendant and others; would reflect the seriousness of the offense; would provide just punishment for the offense; and would protect the public from further crimes of the defendant,” court records state.
USPS officials say Greene failed to deliver more than 10,700 pieces of mail from June 2004 to February 2007, keeping the mail in two storage facilities in Kingsport.
According to court records, Greene, who recently moved to Chattanooga, was assigned to deliver mail on Route 22 in the Cooks Crossing, Cooks Valley and Sunnyside area of Kingsport and Sullivan County from late 2004 to late 2006.
In February, a manager at American Storage Center in Kingsport discovered a rental unit partially opened. For security reasons the manager looked inside and discovered multiple bags and bins with undelivered mail. The unit had been rented by Greene since November 2005.
Based on the postmark dates and addresses on the mail found, the USPS Office of Inspector General determined Greene would have been given that mail for delivery.
In March, Greene consented to a search of a second rental unit at Brookside Mini-Storage in Kingsport, where investigators found another large amount of undelivered mail. Greene had rented that unit since June 2004.
Investigators say approximately 5,800 first class letters were recovered and delivered to their intended recipients, however additional quantities of mail were destroyed by Greene when she placed the mail in garbage bags and left it for pickup.
According to a sentencing memorandum filed by Culbertson, a contributing factor for Greene’s behavior was stress over her mother’s health and condition; the mother developed Alzheimer’s in 1998. The memorandum also states Greene has been diagnosed with major depression.
Greene moved in with her mother in June 2000 and had the sole responsibility of caring for her, up until her death in October 2005.
“During the time Greene was taking care of her mother, she was working approximately 40 to 50 hours a week. Her mail route consisted of approximately 700 families, it was very stressful, and she became overwhelmed with the requirements of her work and the responsibility of taking care of her mother and was unable to cope,” the memorandum states.
Culbertson wrote Greene does not raise these issues as an excuse for what she did, and she takes full responsibility for her actions. Culbertson added Greene did not steal anything — no checks or money were taken, and she did not profit in any manner.
Greene’s case marks the second criminal case this year involving Kingsport postal workers.
In May Jeffrey Dean Davis, a clerk at the Kingsport Main Post Office, appeared in U.S. District Court in Greeneville and received a 48-hour prison sentence for stealing DVDs sent through the mail and selling them on eBay.