Mail box theft ring pleads guilty

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A long-term investigation into the theft of mail in and around Anderson County resulted in multiple arrests in April. The defendents pled guilty recently in federal court in Anderson, to conspiracy to steal United States mail, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

United States District Timothy M. Cain, of Anderson accepted the pleas and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Among those pleading guilty were:

Wendy B. Sisk, age 44, Crystal D. Hudson, age 33, both of Honea Path, Jason Tomsha, age 46, of Greenville, Shannon D. Ashworth, age 33, Tonya M. Reid, age 38, John T. Eskew, age 28, Casey Hembree, age 20, Justin D. Powers, age 24, Whitney Strickland, age 27, Danny C. Buford, age 47, Ashley N. Burdette, age 29, James M. Day, age 44, Andrew C. Keaton, age 23, and Bonnie Reid, age 57, all of Anderson, pled guilty recently in federal court in Anderson, to conspiracy to steal United States mail, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Anderson City Police Department, and other local agencies had undertaken a long-term investigation into the theft of mail in and around Anderson County.

It was discovered that an organization existed that regularly stole mail from residential boxes, sorted the stolen mail for checks and personal identifying information, created altered or counterfeit checks, and created false identification documents. Multiple counterfeit and altered checks were passed throughout the upstate. Law enforcement estimates that the losses from the activities of the conspiracy exceed $160,000. Most of the fraud was conducted in an effort to obtain funds to purchase methamphetamine.

Since the arrest of the Defendants in April 2015, Postal Inspectors report that complaints of mail theft in Anderson County have markedly dropped.

United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated the maximum penalty the Defendants can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 5 years, plus a special assessment of $100.

The case was investigated by agents of United States Postal Inspection Service, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Anderson City Police Department, and other local law enforcement agencies. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.