Michigan mail handler who stole mail because she was “bored” avoids prison

Update 6/20/2015: The Associated Press reports that mail handler Sharon Berrien has made a plea deal to keep her out of jail:

A postal worker accused of stealing as many as 2,000 pieces of mail in suburban Detroit will escape charges if she pays $1,500 and meets other conditions.

Court filings show the government dropped a criminal complaint against Sharon Berrien. Instead, she’ll pay $50 a month toward her debt, perform 40 hours of community service and follow other requirements for one year.

A judge approved the deal Friday.

The original story, posted last December:

uspsoigAn employee at the postal service’s Detroit Processing and Distribution Center has admitted to stealing and rifling as many as 2,000 pieces of mail because she was “bored”. Sharon Berrien, a mail handler with twenty eight years in the USPS, says she took shopping bags full of greeting cards home with her. She then stole whatever cash she could find in the cards, and discarded the rest- tossing hundreds of pieces of mail out her car window as she drove down I-94.

The thefts came to light in October when a customer found numerous rifled greeting cards along an I-94 exit ramp. Some of the opened envelopes contained checks and gift cards, but none contained cash. The customer turned the recovered mail over to the USPS- his wife reported that she had seen mail discarded in the same area two months earlier. Based on the characteristics of the discarded mail, investigators determined that it had been processed on the Low Cost Tray Sorter (LCTS) at the Detroit P&DC. A review of time card records showed that Berrien had been working on the LCTS during the time that the letters were processed. The exit ramp where much of the mail was found also happened to be on the direct route from the P&DC to Berrien’s home.

On November 21, 2014, agents searched the trash that Berrien had left by the curb for pickup. They found about 800 rifled greeting cards. Like the mail found earlier, some of the cards contained gift cards and checks- none contained cash.

Three days later OIG agents interviewed Berrien at the P&DC. When they advised her that they had found rifled mail in her trash, Berrien, saying she felt embarrassed and humiliated. She confessed to taking mail home in plastic shopping bags, and concealing it in a closet until she was alone. Then she would look through the cards for cash, ignoring checks and gift cards. Berrien said she had no financial or substance abuse problems. Asked why she did it, she said “I was bored”. To Berrien, the thefts were a game- she said she just wanted to see if she could get away with it, and “it got out of hand”.

Berrien said she started stealing in the Spring of this year. She stole about once a week, the last thefts coming on November 22. Altogether, she estimates she stole between $1,000 and $1,500. After the interview, Berrien’s USPS ID badge was confiscated, and she was escorted off the premises. She is currently under Emergency Placement off duty. A search of her apartment disclosed three additional bags of rifled mail in a closet.

An criminal complaint was filed in Federal Court in Detroit yesterday charging Berrien with Theft of Mail by a Postal Employee. No word yet on when Berrien will appear in court to answer the charge.

  • Marcus1956

    As a Postal employee I hope she gets jail time.

  • Andres Elaine

    They knew she stole but they put her on emergency placement? I was put on that @ the plant w/o cause(I won) but they actual know she stole but did not immediately send a termination letter! the Post office is doing some shady stuff!

  • IIlIIl111

    $1000 – $1500 Gained…………………………..28 years worth of pension LOST. Pretty good deal……………..

  • common sense

    What are you talking about? You don’t type up a termination letter the second you find out someone’s accused of stealing mail. What would the point be anyway? She’s off the clock and off the payroll. She ain’t gonna steal any more mail, and she’s not ever gonna work for the PO again. WTF is “shady” about that? She’s also going to be tried and probably convicted of a felony. Who cares how long it takes them to send a stupid letter? At this point, it’s a formality. What difference does it make?

    You bored or something?

  • backmtjayare

    Relax. She’s just giving her opinion. There’s no need to get your knickers in a bunch. Use common sense.

  • junkmail926

    This lady is a piece of work. Her attitude stinks and she she’s a snitch.

  • Andres Elaine

    what #PO you working at? because Detroit post terminations for accusations that don’t involve stealing mail. Plus it’s NOT an accusation, she “Admitted” she stole. so it should have been an automatic termination letter! with emergency placement they might bring you back because it’s not an actual fire. Detroit prob hired too many mha’s because low cost at the Detroit P&DC be bangin hard! The funny thing is she only got about $1,500 and stole all that mail(approx 2000 pieces) is pathetic. The PO will fire for any reason to be honest, most of the time is because they simply don’t “LIKE” you.

  • common sense

    Geez- get a hobby Andres! Try and explain WTF you’re worried about, will you? The woman is gone. Who cares whether they give her the termination letter yesterday, today, tomorrow, or next month?

    Tell you what- try and calm down a bit, and then explain to us exactly what it is she’s going to do that has you in such a frenzy? How would handing her a termination letter before any charges have been filed have changed anything?

  • Andres Elaine

    Frenzy? Funny how your name is common sense and your not making any! emergency placement is something that management does usually to black-ball you but in some cases it actually helps you out! Your still connected to lite-blue so your still an employee! Your not kicked out of lite-blue till your terminated which she has “NOT” been.

    So USPS is basically saying we let thieves stay in our system and we don’t send them to jail.

    I’m just concerned because many people have been fired from USPS for no reason at all.

  • common sense

    Yes, frenzy. If you’re not familiar with the word, look it up.

    So it’s her ability to log in to liteblue that has you so upset? Now I know you’re not serious!

    Liteblue!! God only knows what she’ll get up to with that coveted access to liteblue!! Let’s see- she can read the News Link, she can check her pay stub to make sure she gets credited with 80 hours of LWOP, She could have updated her FEHBP open season selection. Yeah, that’s all pretty scary! Maybe you should alert Homeland Security or something!!

    Sorry if I’m repeating myself, but you seem awfully slow, so let’s try again. She’s gone. Doesn’t matter when or how she gets her final, absolute certified notification. Having someone type up a termination notice the moment she admitted to the theft would not have changed anything. (No one except you cares that she may or may not be able to log in to liteblue.) And obviously, handing her a letter a week ago rather than today or tomorrow, or 2 days ago or 3 days ago would not have done anything for the “many people have been fired from USPS for no reason at
    all”.

  • Andres Elaine

    Your still failing to realize that she is “NOT” gone! There is NO frenzy here just simple facts.
    I’ve been nothing but cordial, no profanity (like the wtf’s you replied to me).
    They put you on #ep when they “MIGHT” bring you back! all they have to do is give you your timecard and you can swipe anywhere! (collecting money again).

    There is NO excuse for a person who admitted stealing still being in your sys. you can call me slow all you want! your a fool.
    This is “Federal jurisdiction” which is “NOT” a game.

    People want her in jail just like me but your only replying to me which is strange!

  • cardcarrier

    I have to agree with you on this one, AE. As a letter carrier with close to twenty years of experience, I take particular offense when I hear of ANY postal employee who blatantly betrays the trust that the mailing public has placed on us. The fact that she admitted to her crimes only deepens my desire for her to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. You’re not “frenzied”, just pissed off as we should all be when one of our own crosses over to the dark side.

  • common sense

    You really don’t have a clue, do you? The timing of her emergency placement or termination has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not she lands in jail. The USPS doesn’t put people in jail- the courts do. News flash: if they had typed up your “immediate termination letter” nothing would be any different. ANY action can be rescinded, even a termination.

    By the way- sorry to hear that you’re in jail:

    “People want her in jail just like me”

  • common sense

    No one’s defending the woman or saying she shouldn’t go to jail. I was responding to Andres Elaine’s nonsense about the emergency placement. Period. That’s what seems to have sent her off the deep end.

  • kj

    You are a know it all a-hole

  • common sense

    Hey! Good comeback there, little buddy! Excellent analysis of the issue. It’s always gratifying when the people who disagree with me prove that they have the mental faculties of a foul-mouthed seven year old!

    Let me respond in the same spirit:

    I know you are, but what am I!

    Ouch!

  • Christine Beaty

    Really? The deep end? You’re the only one in the deep end here “spouting all this nonsense”. It’s simply about this employee with the USPS stealing from the public, admitting it and then not getting immediate termination which is what most people would expect should happen in a case like this. Where’s your common sense?!

  • common sense

    Really? Crawling out from the woodwork two months later? Just to spout more nonsense? What’s this magical “immediate termination” you’re frothing at the mouth over? The woman is gone. Period. Never coming back. Who cares if she was terminated the very second she admitted she did it, or an hour or a day or a week later? She was put off the clock- she wasn’t in a position to do the USPS any more harm.

    What exactly is your problem?????

    (If they’d magically terminated her the instant she walked in the door you and the other screaming banshee would be demanding to know why the USPS didn’t invent a wayback machine so they could go back in time and kill her before she started working at the PO!)

  • just another worker

    After reading all of these comments, I feel the need to give an opinion. I believe Andres tried to express her concerns with the disparate treatment in the adjudication of removals not only from one facility to another, but from one employee to another. as a former union steward, I have seen multiple employees given a “Job Discussion” for an infraction that another employee receives a notice of removal for. an employee in this instance, does something that based on Article 16.7 of all respective union contracts, warrants emergency placement, until a termination letter is produced. the mere fact that this was not done correctly, would leave an union official salivating at the opportunity to bring this situation up if this case heads for arbitration. the arbitrator, whoever he or she may be, cannot, I repeat, cannot look at the merits of a criminal proceeding in the determination of removal. the fact that this woman was treated differently than just say Andres, if it can be proven, will lead to a violation of “Just Cause”. this hypothetical “violation” of “Just Cause” could technically overturn the employee’s termination, thus giving this woman a possible slap on the wrist for stealing over 2000 pieces of mail. On the other hand, an employee might have done something like cursed in the direction of another employee; and is deemed harmful to others by a manager only to be placed in Emergency Placement. the Collective Bargaining Agreements were made for a reason. any defect in procedures can in fact cost the Union, or the USPS dearly in situations like this

  • Bo Knows

    Ms. Berrian is the wife of former NPMHU National President 24 years ago,Glenn Berrian, who sold the mail handlers down the river when he signed a crap CBA that gave away our pay raises and COLA’s for lump sum payments which the unions always said no to and the rank and file never got to vote it down. The union removed him from office as soon as they could and lost an appeal to terminate the contract on grounds that the rank and file never got to vote yes or no when an arbitrator ruled the contract valid.And that crack head tried to make a comeback by running for local president of local 307.That man should never be a union rep ever again!

  • common sense

    It certainly doesn’t appear that the USPS mishandled this case- placing an employee on emergency placement is exactly what Section 16.7 of the contract calls for in a case of “pilferage” or “loss of mail or funds”. Nothing shady about it! The funny thing about Andres rant is that she WASN’T treated differently- she claims she was put on emergency placement too. She claims she grieved it and won- which makes it hard to see what she’s complaining about! Meanwhile, Ms. Berrien has been fired (look hjer up if you don’t believe me)- just as I said she was 6 months ago.

  • Hannibal Lector

    She can retire now before the termination goes through,however,being under FERS and with only 28 years she will be getting less than $1000/per month pension.

  • common sense

    You don’t lose your accrued pension if you’re terminated. If you owe the USPS money, they can put a lien on your annuity and your TSP, but she has the same right to her pension as she would if she had quit.

  • IIlIIl111

    I had always heard that if you committed a crime while on the job, you forfeited your pension, just like what happens to the cops………………

  • common sense

    Nope. Google it.

    If you are entitled to an immediate annuity, you can start it right away- otherwise, you can begin a deferred annuity when you become eligible. The only crimes that can cost you your retirement are things like treason and espionage.

    http://retirement.federaltimes.com/2010/06/15/retirement-benefits-after-being-fired/

  • Zeus

    Yes,if they don’t like you,they can give you a removal letter any time they want knowing they will lose the case and you will get your back pay,but keep you off the clock while it takes as much as a year to be heard and you have no income.

  • http://postalnews.com/ hollywood

    You can get fired and go to prison but you NEVER loose your pension or SS benefits . That is a fact . Treason is the only crime that takes away your benefits .

  • cherykie

    Then why are we still paying 0bama???