Hawkins mail carrier gets suspended sentence, pretrial diversion in gift card theft case

Jeff Bobo • Mar 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM

CHURCH HILL — A Church Hill mail carrier arrested in January for stealing mail was granted a Title 40 pretrial diversion Tuesday in Hawkins County Sessions Court, which means her record will be expunged if she avoids future legal entanglements.

Carolyn Elise Derrick, 39, 106 Messick Ave., Church Hill, was arrested on Jan. 8 after a Church Hill Police Department investigation revealed that she’d stolen a gift card from a Christmas card she was delivering prior to the holiday and used it at the Wal-Mart on Fort Henry Drive.

The person who was supposed to receive the gift card noticed the envelope was opened when it arrived and later contacted the sender, who said a Wal-Mart gift card was supposed to be included. Derrick was captured on Wal-Mart video surveillance cameras using the stolen gift card.

Derrick told police the gift card had fallen out of a piece of mail, and she couldn’t figure out which one, so she used the card. Police subsequently searched Derrick’s vehicle and found “40 to 50 pieces” of undelivered mail hidden under her seats.

Tuesday in Hawkins County Sessions Court, Derrick accepted a plea agreement for misdemeanor theft, which includes a suspended six-month jail sentences and an order to pay $100 restitution to the person on her route who didn’t receive the gift card.

It was unclear as of Wednesday afternoon whether Derrick may still face federal charges as well. Dan Mihalko, a spokesman with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, said he wouldn’t be able to find out until Thursday if federal charges are still pending. Mihalko noted, however, that if a case has been pursued through the state court, that usually means no federal charges are forthcoming.

Rogersville Assistant Attorney General Alex Pearson, who prosecuted the case, said Derrick qualified for pretrial diversion because her record was clean up to this point.

“She didn’t have a prior record and was charged with theft under $500, which is a Class A misdemeanor, and if she pays the restitution and pays the fine and court costs she won’t have a record after this is over,” Pearson said. “But there are two separate jurisdictions in a case like this, and if the feds take a look at this they may come down with something. I don’t know if they’re going to or not, but messing with the mail like that they could do something with it.”

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