Baltimore, Maryland – Tonya Lucille Higgs, age 50, of Owings Mills, Maryland pleaded guilty today to misappropriation of postal funds.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Paul L. Bowman of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.
According to Higgs’ plea agreement Higgs had been an employee of the United States Postal Service (USPS) since 1995. In March 2011, she was promoted to Lead Sales and Service Associate at the Owings Mills Post Office. Her job responsibilities included consolidating and verifying postal monies and daily financial reports. From October 6, 2011 to May 10, 2014, Higgs fraudulently issued 272 Postal Service no-fee money orders, embezzling a total of approximately $92,147.76 from the USPS. To conceal the scheme, Higgs entered these money orders into the Postal Service database as refunds, so Higgs would not be expected to collect any money from the “customer.” Higgs also wrote relatives, friends, neighbors and associates names on the no-fee money orders to cover up the scheme. The majority of fraudulent no-fee money orders were either made payable to Higgs or used to pay Higgs’ personal bills. After learning of the suspiciously high number of no-fee money orders for refunds issued by Higgs, she was interviewed on May 15, 2014 by Special Agents of the USPS Office of Inspector General. Higgs admitted stealing postal funds through the issuance of no fee-money orders. Higgs was placed on emergency leave in no-pay status at the conclusion of the interview and subsequently fired.
Higgs faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for misappropriation of postal funds. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for November 5, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Kehoe and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel M. Yasser, who are prosecuting the case.