BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Briana Fugate, 26, of Cheektowaga, NY, pleaded guilty to bribery, distribution of marijuana, and delay of mail before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“Our efforts to root out public corruption continue with this second conviction of a postal employee in as many weeks,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “We are not going to allow postal routes to become narcotics delivery services.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wei Xiang, who is handling the case, stated that Fugate accepted bribes to help deliver what she believed to be drug shipments from the West Coast. As the defendant learned to recognize packages containing narcotics, Fugate opened some of the packages and sold the drugs.
The defendant was a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service working out of the Central Park Station Post Office in an area covering the East Side of Buffalo for over a year. Fugate’s actions were uncovered during an undercover operation when she distributed a vacuum-sealed pound of marijuana out of her mail truck while working her postal route. After law enforcement agents arrested Fugate, they discovered over 1,500 pieces of mail in her car that had not been delivered. At the time, the defendant was on probation for a larceny conviction in Cheektowaga Town Court. Fugate admitted that some of the proceeds from marijuana sales went to pay her court-ordered restitution in that case.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen, the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Shelly Binkowski, the United States Postal Service, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Monica Weyler, Eastern Area Field Office, Philadelphia, PA, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 18, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Vilardo.