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Postal worker pleads guilty to stashing mail at home

Posted August 18, 2008

— A former mailman pleaded guilty Monday to hiding years worth of mail at his home near Apex.

Steven M. Padgett, 58, pleaded guilty to a charge of delay or destruction of mail, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He will be sentenced later.

Padgett worked for the U.S. Postal Service from 1995 until May, and he delivered mail to a route off Ten-Ten Road since 2001.

A meter reader found some old mail on the back deck at Padgett's Apex home in May and tipped off postal inspectors, authorities said. A subsequent search of the home found tens of thousands of pieces of mail, some dating to 1999, authorities said.

Stacks of mail bins were piled in his garage, and other items were buried in his back yard, authorities said. The mail – it was all third-class "junk" mail, not first-class letters and packages – could have filled about three-fourths of a semi trailer, authorities said.

Padgett, who declined to comment as he left the federal courthouse in Raleigh, resigned after postal inspectors confronted him about the undelivered mail.

“This is one of the most egregious cases we have seen regarding the failure of a postal employee to perform his duties and to interfere with the proper delivery of the U.S. mail," U.S. Attorney George Holding said in a statement. "But it is also important that we note it is an exception to the rule as we recognize the hard work and integrity of the vast majority of postal employees.”

Padgett couldn't get all of the mail delivered some days and simply made a bad choice out of fear of losing his job, said his lawyer, Andrew McCoppin. Investigators said the junk mail comes in a separate bin, and mail carriers have to add it in on their routes.

Although only junk mail was involved, postal inspectors said businesses pay money to have it delivered, which makes Padgett's actions a serious criminal case.

"The great majority of people who entrust their mail with the Postal Service intend to have it received on the other side," said Larry Gleisner, assistant special agent-in-charge of the Postal Service's Office of Inspector General. "When you do this as an employee, you risk your career and you'll be punished in criminal court."

Postal Service managers are trying to notify the more than 250 residents and business owners on Padgett's route.

A similar case was prosecuted last year in Alamance County after thousands of pieces of undelivered mail were found buried in the yard of a postal worker there.


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  • Weetie Aug 19, 2008

    If he needs some extra bills, he can have mine!

  • HappyGirl08 Aug 19, 2008

    What I will NEVER understand about this sort of thing is, why do they keep the mail?? So you aren't going to deliver it, why keep it. In this case, assuming its all junk mail, I dont' think its for identity theft, so get yourself a black trashbag and make a trip to the landfill on Saturday morning. Good grief! OH well....stupid is as stupid does.

  • Mama Wuf Aug 18, 2008

    He could get up to 5 yrs. for this, according to the report. ARE YOU SERIOUS???? I don't think he should serve jail time. Think I'll write the federal government and tell them I appreciate NOT getting junk mail. And WHY by the way can you NOT opt out of junk mail. You can opt out of credit card offers and be put on a "Do not call" list, but you can't get the junk mail to stop!

  • OrdinaryCitizen Aug 18, 2008

    If it was only junk mail, then I say this guy is a saint.

    Personally I hate junk mail and do not wish to receive it but they send anyway. I hate the wasted paper and trash.

  • Dreamin of Disney World Aug 18, 2008

    So that's where my Publishers Clearing House check is!! Dang.

  • whatusay Aug 18, 2008

    Seems to be a consensus..."junk" mail should not be allowed to be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. No one wants it...it only leads to identity theft. Hope I am on the jury.

  • Babygirl_1 Aug 18, 2008

    what he did was wrong but atleast it was junk mail i guess he was gonna start a collection

  • VT1994Hokie Aug 18, 2008

    If he could not get all of the mail delivered in a certain amount of time, why didn't he tell his Supervisor about it and get some assistance. What he did was wrong, but, it was junk mail. He should have known that he could not keep covering this up. Heck of a way to lose a good job.

  • If the shoe fits.... Aug 18, 2008

    What he did was wrong. Somehow, however, I can't be too angry about it. It was explained that he couldn't deliver all the mail on some days and feared for his job. I kinda' understand his thinking (re: junk mail). It is a shame that my postman has to go to the effort to walk all the way to my door to deliver only junk mail some days - mail that goes straight into my trash can. (When we as a society get serious about saving gas and trees, we'll cut out junk mail.)
    Maybe WRAL can do a story about how much revenue junk mail brings in, what percentage of postal service operating costs it pays for????

  • san4short Aug 18, 2008

    By far, there are worse crimes than this! Especially if it was only junk mail. All things considered, he should get a reduced sentence. Good luck to him!