Deaf postal worker must pay $2,244 in restitution for stealing cash, gift cards
By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
HARRISONBURG -- A Strasburg postal worker was sentenced to probation this week in U.S. District Court for stealing cash and gift cards from residents along his route.
Jason McKinley Dean, 32, formerly of 357 Brown St., was spared any time behind bars when he was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski, according to online court records.
Instead, he will serve five years of probation and must pay $2,244 in restitution. As part of his supervision, Dean must get permission from his probation officer before he uses a credit card or opens up a new line of credit, according to court records. Court documents indicate additional restitution may be required.
Dean, who carried mail in Winchester, pleaded guilty Sept. 27 to theft or embezzlement by a postal worker. As part of a plea agreement, a charge of destroying, hiding or opening one or more pieces of mail was dropped.
Dean was placed under investigation after the Winchester main post office started getting complaints in September 2009 that people were missing mail containing gift cards, as well as packages, according to a statement of facts filed in the case.
Agents with the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General placed three controlled test pieces in mail that Dean would carry, the statement says. None of the mail reached its destination, it says.
An agent found more than 200 pieces of mail in the trash at Dean's home, including checks totaling $3,661 and $175 in gift cards, according to the statement.
He was stopped May 20, 2010, after a letter beacon alarm in a test piece with $200 inside went off in his car, the statement says. He had money in his hand when approached by investigators.
The statement says Dean admitted he'd been stealing cash and gift cards from people's mail.
A sentencing memorandum filed by public defender Joel Hoppe says Dean got behind in his bills shortly after buying a house and moving in his girlfriend and her child in 2009.
"Instead of asking for help, in the fall of 2009, Dean began taking cash from envelopes from his mail routes," it says. "When the agents asked why he did not ask for help, Dean responded that he wanted to take care of things himself and had too much pride.
"He got overwhelmed and made an uncharacteristically terrible decision to steal cash from the mail. Because his parents had raised him to be honest, Dean was humiliated. His conduct has weighed on his conscience."
Since his arrest, Dean has broken up with girlfriend, who had their daughter in October 2010, gotten another job and pays rent to his parents, with whom he lives, the memorandum says. He has primary custody of his child.
The memorandum says that because Dean has been deaf since contracting spinal meningitis at age 2, an American Sign Language interpreter would be needed to allow him to participate in any programs and meetings in prison, and a video phone or TTY device would be necessary for outside communication. Other accommodations necessary would include visual alarms, pagers or message boards to let him know of any emergencies, meal announcements and the like.