Two Lubbock postal contractors have been sentenced to a combined seven years and 10 months in federal prison for possession of stolen mail, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham.
The investigation – which culminated in the recovery of more than 8,000 pieces of mail with face values in excess of $4 million – marked the largest ever seizure of stolen mail in Northern District of Texas history.
Joe Roy Rivas, III, 22, and Jessica Lynn Solomon, 35, were indicted in October 2021. Mr. Rivas pleaded guilty in December 2021 to conspiracy to possess stolen mail and he was sentenced earlier this month to 57 months in federal prison. Two weeks after Mr. Rivas entered his plea, Ms. Solomon pleaded guilty to the same charges; she was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in federal prison.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service takes any report of mail theft seriously and will conduct an aggressive investigation,” said Thomas Noyes, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Fort Worth Division. “An egregious element of this case was the discovery of these few contractors who chose to violate their position of trust. This action brought to bear a swift and comprehensive response by both Postal Inspectors and our law enforcement partners aimed at bringing the criminal activity to an end. We thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas for their commitment in seeking justice on behalf of those who were affected by the crimes this group committed. Postal Inspectors will not cease in their ongoing effort to safeguard the U.S. Postal Service, its customers and ensure public trust in the mail.”
According to plea papers, Mr. Rivas and Ms. Solomon were former co-workers at Cargo Force, Inc., a company that contracts with the United States Postal Service to load mail into and out of air containers destined for flights to and from the Lubbock International Airport.
The defendants admitted they began stealing mail at the start of their employment with Cargo Force, approximately two years before they were caught. During their shifts, they sifted through mail looking for items containing merchandise, cash, gift cards, checks, and money orders.
The 8,000 pieces of stolen mail law enforcement recovered from the Rivas and Solomon were post-marked within a four-day period. Law enforcement found the staggering heap of stolen mail stuffed into 55-gallon trash bags and stockpiled inside a residence the two shared in Slaton, Texas.
The investigation revealed that the conspiracy involved regular “washing” of checks – removing the name of one payee to replace it with another – and selling cell phones removed from mail handled by Cargo Force.
At their sentencing hearings, prosecutors advised that the mail was destined for 36 states within the contiguous United States, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands.
Prosecutors highlighted some of the mail that had been kept from its proper recipients: a multitude of payments to entities such as mortgage bankers; over 40 pieces of mail related to federal court proceedings; more than 50 letters from local college admissions offices to applicants; and numerous greeting cards intended to brighten someone’s day. The addresses and addressors included churches, charitable organizations, prison ministries, local judicial and law enforcement entities, financial institutions, trust companies, banks, lenders, local school districts, hospitals, hospices, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment companies, and funeral homes.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Slaton Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ann Howey and Jeff Haag prosecuted the case.