A Springfield postal worker stuffed items from mail into her sweatpants and then disappeared for short periods of time, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Leanna Heskett has been indicted on 21 counts of delay or destruction of mail after an investigation started when medication was missing from a Veterans Affairs package.
Heskett, a mail processing clerk, was found on surveillance video to have stolen numerous items from many packages, according to an affidavit written by a special agent from the postal service’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Heskett’s indictment in Dayton’s U.S. District Court is the latest in a string of area postal workers who have been prosecuted for stealing mail or cash from the United States Postal Service.
Heskett, whose last day with the postal service was Nov. 3, 2015, is free on her own recognizance. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 31.
OIG special agent Jodie Carr wrote that on Aug. 20, 2015, “I interviewed Heskett at the Springfield Post Office, during which she denied stealing from the post office.”
The next day, however, post office management reported that Heskett had called other postal employees and admitted that she had stolen from the postal service, according to the affidavit.
One of those other employees said Heskett admitted to him that she had been stealing and that the OIG had her on camera: “He advised that he asked her what she had been stealing, and she replied that he didn’t want to know,” the affidavit said.
That day, according to the affidavit, Carr and another OIG agent interviewed a different postal worker who said Heskett said she “was not taking Veterans Affairs medications but that she was stealing other items.”
The court document said Heskett primarily sorted mail intended for delivery in the 45505 and 45506 zip codes but also handled other zones as needed.
In February 2014, OIG received information from a postal customer who said he got his VA parcel but that it didn’t include the medicine in it.
“The initial investigation indicated the issue was not with a particular mail carrier, as several carriers had noticed opened parcels upon receipt for delivery,” Carr wrote, adding that there had been multiple complaints to the post office in reference to medication parcels that had been opened.
That pointed to an issue in the processing unit, Carr wrote. Other customers complained that jewelry was missing from packages that appeared to have been cut open and resealed.
The affidavit lists more than 20 instances between May 5 and June 9, 2015 where surveillance video depicts Heskett’s alleged thefts, including from seven parcels in one day.
“The video depicts Heskett opening parcels and placing parcels and other mail items in her pants,” Carr wrote. “After placing the mail items or parcels in her pants, she would then leave the area for short periods of time.”
Carr wrote that as an internal mail handler, Heskett wasn’t required to wear a USPS uniform and that she usually wore a T-shirt, sweatpants and a blue apron.