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February 26, 2021Chicago, IL, United StatesDocument and Benefit Fraud

5 former Chicago postal employees among 11 charged in theft, fraud conspiracy

20-count indictment alleges stolen information traded for purchases at local retailers

CHICAGO — Five former U.S. Postal Service employees are among 11 individuals charged with conspiring to steal credit cards and other financial instruments from the mail.

This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General (USPS-OIG).

Federal authorities uncovered the 18-month conspiracy through a joint investigation titled Operation Cash on Delivery. The former USPS employees, who at the time worked as mail carriers in the Chicagoland area, are alleged to have stolen credit cards and other financial instruments from the mail and provided them to co-conspirators in exchange for cash or other items, according to a 20-count indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court in Chicago.

Two of the defendants unlawfully obtained USPS customers’ personal identifying information, including dates of birth and Social Security numbers, which was then used to fraudulently activate the stolen credit cards and make purchases at various retailers, including Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, Walmart and Meijer, the charges allege.

Most of the defendants were arrested Thursday and have begun making initial appearances in federal court in Chicago.

“The actions taken in this case demonstrate our commitment to protecting our communities from criminal enterprises seeking to steal identities and defraud honest, hard-working people,” said acting Special Agent in Charge R. Sean Fitzgerald of HSI Chicago. “HSI is proud of the work we’ve accomplished with our law enforcement partners in this investigation.”

“Postal Inspectors are committed to ensuring the public’s trust in the U.S. Mail system,” said Inspector-in-Charge William Hedrick of USPIS Chicago. “The U.S. Postal Service relies on its employees to perform their duties with honor and pride. Postal Inspectors, along with our federal partners, bear the burden of holding responsible those individuals who compromise the security of the U.S. mail at the expense of the public. Furthermore, this investigation aims to restore the integrity of the mail and deliver justice to the victims of those arrested today.”

“These arrests represent our commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to maintain the integrity and trust in the U.S. mail,” said Special Agent in Charge Andre Martin of the USPS-OIG Chicago Great Lakes Area Field Office. “The majority of postal employees are hard-working public servants dedicated to moving mail to its proper destination. Unfortunately, those arrested decided to betray the public’s trust and steal mail from postal customers. The USPS OIG, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, remain committed to safeguarding the integrity of the U.S. mail and ensuring the accountability and integrity of U.S. Postal Service employees.”

Charged with conspiring to steal mail and commit unauthorized access device fraud are the following former USPS employees:

  • Rebecca Okunoren, 28, of Chicago,
  • Jessica Jefferson, 32, of Broadview, Illinois,
  • Monique D. Love, 29, of Chicago,
  • Myiesha Weaver, 34, of College Park, Georgia, and
  • Dominique Sykes, 28, of Chicago.

Also charged in the conspiracy are:

  • Davey Hines, 28, of Naperville, Illinois,
  • Billye Harris, 26, of Harvey, Illinois,
  • Terrance Scales, 29, of Chicago,
  • Stephon Johnson, 33, of Alsip, Illinois,
  • Loreal Ross, 31, of Chicago, and
  • Brittnay P. Shepard, 28, of Chicago.

Hines, Harris, Johnson, and Ross also face charges of unauthorized access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

This federal investigation previously resulted in charges last summer against five other individuals, including four other former USPS employees.

The indictment and arrests were announced by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John R. Lausch, Jr. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shy Jackson and Paige Nutini, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Madrinan.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains allegations only and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.