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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: mail

Ex-postal worker sentenced in mail theft

An ex-postal supervisor and Air Force veteran will be on probation for five years for stealing prescription medication from mail.

Mark Charles Raley, 46, of Spokane also will pay $5,045 in restitution under a sentence imposed this week in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He pleaded guilty in May to two counts of theft of mail by a postal service employee.

Raley was a supervisor at the U.S. Postal Service Spokane Processing and Distribution Center when he became addicted to hydrocodone after undergone gastric bypass surgery. He was being treated at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center but grew heavily addicted and began sorting mail looking for VA package containing hydrocodone. He wouldn't steal any other prescription drugs, according to court documents.

“Mr. Raley does not have a checkered past and was not looking to profit from his conduct by selling to others; rather, he simply sought to support his hydrocodone addiction,” according to a sentencing memorandum prepared by his lawyer, John McEntire.

In a prepared statement, Michael Seitler, an Office of Inspector General special agent in charge of the VA’s northwest field office, said Raley “prevented numerous veterans from receiving the medication they desperately needed.”

Raley entered a drug treatment program offered by the VA in December shortly after being confronted about the thefts. He continues to attend drug rehab and is living in a clean-and-sober house that requires him to take random drug tests.

Raley wants to attend school to be a substance abuse counselor, McEntire said.

Several mail thefts reported in Valley

Here's a news release from Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Reagan:

Numerous Spokane Valley residents living in the area of 14300 to 14600 East Sixth reported their mail being stolen from street-side rural mailboxes between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon.

Residents found their mail opened and tossed on the ground along the roadway. It was unknown if the thief found anything of value to steal, but identity thieves frequently target mail to obtain personal financial information which they then use to victimize the intended mail recipient.

Outgoing personal checks provide thieves with the names, addresses and account numbers of checking account holders, and incoming mail can provide pre-approved loan applications which can be activated with a simple signature.

Although financial institutions usually cover the victim’s monetary loss, it can take months or years to fix the victim’s credit history damaged by the suspect’s thefts.

Law enforcement professionals encourage all area residents to purchase a locking roadside mailbox to receive incoming mail on rural routes, or to rent a mailbox at the nearest post office.

Outgoing mail containing checks or cash should always be deposited in the larger blue U.S. Postal Service mailboxes located at shopping malls, grocery stores or in front of post office annexes.

County to pay $230k in jail mail lawsuit

Spokane County will pay $230,000 to settle a lawsuit over restrictions on jail inmates’ mail.

County commissioners and Sheriff’s Office officials also agreed Tuesday to abandon a policy of requiring messages from friends and families of prisoners to be written on postcards.

A consent decree negotiated with Prison Legal News also will prohibit other mail policies that county officials dropped less than a month after PLN filed suit Jan. 21.

Read the rest of John Craig's story here.

Past coverage:

March 2: Jail changes postcards-only policy

Jail changes postcard-only mail policy

Restrictions on inmate mail have loosened at the Spokane County Jail in response to a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a prisoner rights publishing group.

While mail sent to inmates from friends and family remains limited to postcards, with jail staff citing security precautions as a primary reason, the restriction no longer applies to outgoing mail.

Also, the jail will make exceptions to the postcard-only rule for businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The changes were triggered by a lawsuit filed by lawyers for Prison Legal News, part of the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center. The organization’s publications were being blocked from delivery to inmates because they weren’t postcards.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage: Aug. 14: Tight rein on jail mail

Meth-addicted mail thieves sentenced

Two Spokane women who stole mail to help fuel their methamphetamine addictions are to repay nearly $50,000 and spend about four years in federal prison.

Jacquelyn A. Crawford, 40, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Edward Shea to 53 months in prison after pleading guilty in October to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Charlene M. Haggard, 43, received 48 months for the same charges.

Both will be on probation for three years and are prohibited from accruing debt, opening checking accounts or obtaining bank cards without a probation officer's approval. They also are to repay nearly $47,375.16 for counterfeit checks they passed at area businesses.

Haggard and Crawford gathered materials for fake checks by ransacking rural mail boxes and prowling cars from February until April, when investigators searched Haggard's home at 5904 N. Regal St. and Crawford's room at the Apple Tree Inn, 9508 N. Division Street.

Crawford said she was “kind of relieved” when she was taken into custody, investigators said.

“She just began injecting methamphetamine, so in a way she was thankful she was caught,” Spokane County Sheriff's Office Detective Dean Meyer said in May. Crawford, a mother of three, completed in-patient rehabilitation and was allowed to stay with her mother in Spanaway pending sentencing. Haggard remains in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Jail mail soon restricted to only postcards

Mail to and from Spokane County Jail inmates will be restricted to postcards beginning Sept. 1.

The change will reduce the amount of time spent inspecting mail, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s office.

“Potentially hazardous substances can be secreted into envelopes which corrections officers have to open,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.

Legal correspondence in envelopes still will be accepted, and inmates still are allowed to receive approved magazines, book and newspapers.

Incoming and outgoing mail will be restricted to 5.5” x 8.5” postcards.

Senders must include their full names and address, as well as the inmate’s first name, middle initial, last name and inmate identification number.

Postcards that don’t fit the requirements beginning Sept. 1 will be returned to sender. Mail without a return address will be returned to the post office.

Police seize bank records after UPS finds pot

Detectives are investigating a 20-year-old Spokane man for money laundering after they say he tried to mail a pound of marijuana to Missouri.

A search warrant authorizes detectives to access Johnathon A. Delay’s Bank of America account, “and to seize any and all U.S currency located therein.”

Delay was arrested last week on one felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance after a United Parcel Services employee smelled marijuana on a package he mailed. A police officer with the Spokane County Regional Drug Task Force posed as a UPS employee and told Delay to go to a UPS store to report the package stolen.

Investigators searched Delay’s cell phone after his arrest and found pictures “of large quantities of u.s currency, as well as photographs depicting a large scale, indoor marijuana grow operation,” according to a search warrant used to seize Delay’s records with Bank of America.

“Detective McClary believes that photographs of this nature present on Delay’s cell phone strongly suggest that he may be involved in the illegal growing and/or distributing of marijuana….(and) that drug traffickers often utilize bank accounts to collect drug debt over long distances quickly,” according to the warrant.

Judge Sam Cozza authorized the warrant on Thursday. It was filed Friday in Spokane County Superior Court.

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