NEW ORLEANS – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced today the arrest of RYAN S. CORTEZ, Manager of Customer Service Operations at the North Kenner Post Office located at 390 West Esplanade Avenue. CORTEZ, age 46, of Des Allemands, Louisiana, was arrested by special agents with the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General (“Postal OIG”) for Misappropriation of Postal Funds or Property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1711.
According to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in federal court, Postal OIG agents were notified by PayPal and eBay regarding significant quantities of U.S. Postal stamps being sold by CORTEZ on eBay. A subsequent investigation by Postal OIG revealed that, as manager, Cortez had increased the Kenner North Post Office’s reserve stamp stock by more than $600,000. Subpoenaed records from CORTEZ’s Regions Bank account revealed substantial deposits, including more than $58,000 in a one-month period in the summer of 2018.
During their investigation, Postal OIG agents determined CORTEZ withdrew thousands of dollars on a regular basis at the Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans. Harrah’s records revealed CORTEZ lost over $667,000 since 2011 and lost over $220,000 in 2017. Postal records indicate CORTEZ earned an annual salary of $70,818.
On October 10, 2018, Postal OIG special agents executed a federal search warrant issued by a federal magistrate judge at CORTEZ’s residence in Des Allemands. Postal agents arrested CORTEZ at the Kenner North Post Office earlier this morning.
The criminal complaint also indicates that CORTEZ embezzled approximately thousands of dollars from the Des Allemands Mennonite Church in Des Allemands, LA.
In total, Postal records reveal that CORTEZ stole over approximately $630,000 in U.S. stamps and sold them on eBay. According to Postal authorities, CORTEZ’s illegal activities constitute one of the largest internal Postal theft by a Postal Service employee in the history of the U.S. Postal Service.
U. S. Attorney Strasser reiterated that a Complaint is merely a charge and that the guilt of a defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, CORTEZ faces a maximum penalty of ten (10) years imprisonment, followed by up to three (3) years of supervised release, and a $250,000.00 fine based on the charge outlined in the complaint. CORTEZ appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles, III and was ordered remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday, October 11, 2018.
This case was investigated by special agents from the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General (“USPS-OIG”). The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Supervisor of the Financial Crimes Unit.