State News

Mailman gets probation for burying fliers

Posted November 19, 2008 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2008 4:47 p.m. EST

— A former Apex mailman who admitted keeping people's junk mail in his garage or buried in his back yard was sentenced Wednesday to three years on probation.

Steven Padgett, 58, of 8004 Netherlands Drive in Raleigh, pleaded guilty in federal court in August to delaying the mail. He admitted to keeping thousands of pieces of third-class mail instead of delivering it on his route in Apex.

A meter reader who spotted bins of mail on Padgett's back porch tipped off postal inspectors in May. Inspectors didn't find any first- or second-class mail at the home.

Padgett resigned from the U.S. Postal Service in May.

"Federal employees hold a position of trust with the public, and Mr. Padgett's felony conviction reflects the seriousness of his
violation of that trust," U.S. Attorney George Holding said in a statement.

Defense attorney Andrew McCoppin said Padgett kept the mail because he was slowed by health problems and couldn't keep up with the strict schedule set by the Postal Service. The former Marine couldn't admit to himself or his bosses that he could no longer get the job done, McCoppin said in a court filing seeking a lenient sentence.

"The work ethic that had served him so well throughout his life may have become his downfall," McCoppin wrote. "If his identity and self-concept was wrapped up in being the 'best mail carrier' for all of his customers and he could no longer succeed in that role, it would have been terribly difficult for him to admit that failing.

"Instead, in a misdirected effort to continue the illusion of the perfect mailman, he covered up his failure in a manner which probably seemed, at the time, to cause the least harm."

Postal inspectors said 250 residents didn't get all of their mail over a five-year period, but prosecutors said none came forward to seek restitution after authorities contacted them.

Jim and Stephanie Creasman, who live on Padgett's former route off Ten-Ten Road, said he was a great mailman who treated his customers with respect.

"He was the friendliest postal carrier we ever had. He would bring our mail to the door for us, on rainy days," Stephanie Creasman said.

"He never acted like he was in a hurry. He always had time for you if you had a comment or question or something like that," Jim Creasman said.

During his sentencing hearing, Padgett apologized to the Postal Service and the customers on his mail route, who he said didn't deserve the negative publicity his actions had generated. He choked back tears while apologizing to his family.

His wife, three daughters and seven other family members and friends attended the Wednesday morning hearing at the federal courthouse in Raleigh. Thirty-two other people sent letters of support for Padgett to the court.

"The representative of the Postal Service indicated that Mr. Padgett had never received a complaint from anyone on his route in the 12 or so years he was a mail carrier. Apparently, that's rather unusual," McCoppin told WRAL News.

Padgett also was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service and pay a $3,000 fine.

"We just felt bad about it and hope things will work out for him," Stephanie Creasman said.