ATLANTA – William Wilkins and Michael Fairnot-Woods have been sentenced to 18 years and 15 years in federal prison, respectively, for their roles in an armed robbery spree that targeted U.S. Postal Service letters carriers in Decatur and Lithonia, Georgia. The robberies were part of a scheme to steal a rival drug dealer’s marijuana that was being shipped illegally through the mail. The conspirators also sought to steal financial documents and blank checks that were then used for bank fraud and identity theft.
“Postal workers perform an important public service and should not have their lives jeopardized simply for doing their jobs,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn. “The fact that they were targeted in broad daylight while delivering mail in quiet residential neighborhoods is one more indication of the disregard those in the illegal drug trade have for other people’s lives.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is pleased with today’s sentence. A large part of the Postal Inspection Service mission is assuring the safety of postal employees and we want them to have confidence that they can focus on their duties. These types of crimes against postal employees are rare, but when they do occur, they become top priority for us.” said Tom Noyes, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division –Atlanta Field Office.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: On August 18, 2012, in a residential area in Decatur, Georgia, William Wilkins and Michael Fairnot-Woods approached a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, “K.W,” pointed a military-style assault rifle at her, and stole a package that she was in the process of delivering. The package contained marijuana shipped illegally by a rival drug dealer. Wilkins and Woods fled the area in a pick-up truck.
On November 20, 2012, at another residence in Decatur, Wilkins approached a letter carrier, “A.J.,” pointed a handgun at her, and stole several packages and a tray of mail from her postal vehicle. Wilkins fled the area in a car driven by Fairnot-Woods. Several blank checks stolen during this robbery were later altered and deposited fraudulently by a co-conspirator, Joshua Ellis.
On November 23, 2012, at a residence in Lithonia, Georgia, Wilkins approached a letter carrier, “D.C.,” pointed a silver handgun at him, and demanded the keys to his postal truck. D.C. resisted, and Wilkins then fled the scene empty-handed with Woods, who was waiting in a car nearby.
On January 24, 2013, in a residential area in Decatur, Wilkins approached a letter carrier, “C.C.,” pointed a handgun at him, and directed him to open the back door of his postal vehicle. Wilkins jumped into the truck and began rifling through various packages until he located the particular package containing marijuana that he was looking for. Wilkins fled the scene with the package in a car driven by Woods. After receiving a tip about 30 minutes later, DeKalb County Police stopped the car Wilkins and Woods were traveling in and located the stolen marijuana package, the firearm used during the robbery, and other evidence linking the defendants to this crime. An investigation by federal agents later connected Wilkins and Woods to the earlier robberies and attempted robbery described above.
William James Wilkins, 28, of Decatur, Georgia, pleaded guilty to two counts of armed postal robbery, one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and one count of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it. Wilkins was sentenced to 18 years in prison on March 24, 2015, to be followed by five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,895.37.
Michael Anthony Fairnot-Woods, 27, of Decatur, Georgia, pleaded guilty to two counts of armed postal robbery, one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, one count of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it, and one count of illegally possessing a firearm after receiving a felony conviction. Fairnot-Woods was sentenced to 15 years in prison on March 27, 2015, to be followed by five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,895.37.
Joshua Ellis, 22, of Decatur, Ga., pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of possessing stolen mail. Ellis was sentenced to three years on probation on March 27, 2015. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,895.37.
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the DeKalb County Police Department.