Former Springfield postal worker Leanna Heskett pleaded not guilty to on Thursday to 21 counts of delay or destruction of mail, the fifth area postal worker accused of federal crimes in less than two years.
Heskett’s next court date was scheduled for April 6 in Dayton’s District Court in front of Judge Thomas Rose.
She stuffed items from mail into her sweatpants and then disappeared for short periods of time, according to a federal criminal complaint. Heskett, a mail processing clerk, was found on surveillance video to have stolen numerous items from many packages, according to an affidavit.
Heskett’s prosecution is part of a growing trend of investigations by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
In the Postal Service’s last half-year report to Congress from April 1 to Sept. 30, 2015, it reported 2,216 investigations of mail theft. Those led to 415 arrests, 337 indictments or bills of information, 460 convictions or pretrial diversions and 1,255 administrative actions.
Those numbers are much higher than the same period in 2014, when the post office reported 846 investigations that led to 173 arrests, 129 indictments or bills of information, 186 convictions and 484 administrative actions.
First assistant U.S. attorney Vipal Patel said postal customers who aren’t receiving mail or getting mail that’s been tampered with can contact their local postmaster, the OIG at www.uspsoig.gov or (888) USPS-OIG or a federal prosecutor’s office.
The other four local postal workers all have received probation and been ordered to pay restitution:
- In May 2014, former Dayton postal worker Mark E. McCurry was accused of theft of mail after he allegedly stole more than 1,000 Netflix DVDs in 2012. In November 2014, McCurry was placed on four years’ probation and ordered to pay restitution of 10,894.60.
- In March 2015, former Dayton postal worker was accused of stealing and using gift cards and having a stack of undelivered mail in his vehicle from 2010 until 2015. In November 2015, Young was sentenced to four years’ probation and ordered to pay $4,680.29 in restitution.
- In June 2015, former Germantown and Farmersville postal worker James K. Hubbard was accused of embezzling about $14,600 from January 2008 through 2011. In December 2015, Hubbard was sentenced to five years’ probation, 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay $14,600 in restitution.
- Also in June 2015, former Dayton postal worker Charles Davis Jr. was accused of stealing and using gift cards from Target, Walmart and Toys R Us and taking cash and money orders. In December 2015, Davis was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to pay $315 in probation.