Louisiana contract carrier pleads guilty to mail theft

LAKE CHARLES, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a Lafayette woman pleaded guilty last week to stealing from mail while she worked as a contract postal carrier.

uspsoigHelen J. Nelson, 72, of Lafayette, pleaded guilty Thursday before U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi to one count of theft of mail matter by a postal service employee. According to the guilty plea, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General hotline received a complaint in May of 2016 that a mailed $250 gift card was never received. The missing card was traced to Nelson, who was a contract mail carrier, and an investigation was conducted. She was observed May 26, 2016 driving her Lake Charles/Deridder area route. She stopped at a Lake Charles store’s parking lot where she was seen moving mail from the back of the truck to the front and later throwing away a bag in a trash can. Torn up mail was later found in the retrieved bag. Upon confronting Nelson about the destroyed mail, she admitted to opening mail, searching its contents, taking or discarding some of the mails’ contents and resealing envelopes. She also admitted to taking the $250 gift card.

Nelson faces five years in prison, three years supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution. A sentencing date of December 15, 2016 was set.

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamilla A. Bynog is prosecuting the case.