Federal agents nab Ypsilanti man in mail theft sting operation
An Ypsilanti man who works as a letter carrier in Redford is facing charges after agents with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General said they put a greeting card containing cash in a mailbox and caught him tampering with it.
Stacy L. Keith was charged Wednesday in a federal criminal complaint with theft of mail by a postal employee.
He could not be reached for comment this morning. It's unclear when he will appear in court. Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Detroit, could not be reached for comment.
Keith is accused of opening a piece of mail that had a greeting card and $40 cash inside Nov. 7. He also is accused of stealing a small package containing an AXE lotion sample, federal court records say.
He caught the attention of agents Oct. 3 when Redford Postmaster Pamela Rambo reported that a wedding ring that records show was delivered by Keith was reported missing by the intended recipient. Rambo also reported that a customer on Keith's route received a greeting card, but it had been opened and the cash inside was missing, according to an affidavit by Special Agent Layne Sill.
Regarding the missing ring, Keith gave a written statement that included a description of a man he said signed for the ring, the affidavit says. Agents went to Keith's home Oct. 26 and dug through his trash, the affidavit says, finding two "rifled greeting cards." They decided to set up a sting operation. On Nov. 7, agents put an outgoing greeting card in a customer's mailbox on Woodworth Street in Redford and began conducting surveillance.
Keith picked up the card, and, at one point, put it in the back of his postal van, the affidavit says. He continued walking his route, ultimately returning to the van at 11:53 a.m., when he began to drive away, the affidavit says. Shortly after he left, agents determined he opened the card, the affidavit says, and pulled him over. Keith signed a Miranda Rights form and agreed to an interview, the affidavit says.
Initially, Keith denied "ever stealing mail or opening greeting cards while on duty," the affidavit says. Agents found the open greeting card on the floor next to the driver's seat in the postal van, the affidavit says, and found a small parcel containing an AXE lotion sample.
Asked if he opened a piece of mail that day, Keith told agents, "Yes. It had a tracker in it. I know what it is now ... I looked at it, I felt the tracker in it. I pulled the money out and put it back in," the affidavit says. Regarding the lotion sample, he reportedly told agents, "the residence that it is addressed to is a vacant house and if I brought the item back to the post office they would just throw it away anyway."
Agents showed Keith the greeting cards they found in the trash at his home, the affidavit says. According to the affidavit, he told agents he remembered taking the cards and "admitted one had cash in it."
Keith explained to agents he's had financial problems because he must pay $1,300 each month in child support, the affidavit says. He told agents he has "been stealing greeting cards for approximately one year," taking a total of between $600 and $700, the affidavit says.
"I would take a couple of cards every other week when I got low on money," he said, according to the affidavit.
If convicted of theft of mail by a postal employee, Keith faces up to five years in prison.
Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at email@example.com.