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There used to be a time when tampering with the mail resulted in heavy prison sentences. But it now appears that tampering with the mail is punished as a routine federal crime. For stealing and burring thousands of letters, a letter carrier got a virtual slap on the wrist: 120 hours of community service and three years on probation, now currently unsupervised.

But, wait – there’s more … 

Investigators: Disgraced mailman caught burying thousands of letters

Caught burning mail he was supposed to deliver in 2010, Richard Farrell put himself forward as a changed man. Farrell’s attorney described the Hood Canal contract mail carrier as “genuinely remorseful” and ready to get “his life back on track.”

For burning or stealing thousands of letters, Farrell, now 47, was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and three years on probation. His probation was cut short late last year after authorities determined he didn’t need government supervision any longer.

Now, though, investigators contend they missed the bulk of Farrell’s thefts while examining his Belfair property in 2010. According to court papers, thousands of letters previously missed by investigators were found buried on his property during a recent search.

Agents with the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General’s Office searched Farrell’s home on March 15 and seized 159 postal tubs filled with letters, according to recently unsealed court documents. While an exact count isn’t offered, Farrell previously packed about 220 letters into each tub found at his property; if he remained true to form, investigators may have recovered more than 35,000 letters and packages.

Farrell, who was fired from the Postal Service after the 2010 thefts were discovered, has not yet been charged with any additional thefts. Investigators writing the court for permission to search his home suggest Farrell stole the mail prior to being fired, and has held onto since.

Previously faulted by prosecutors for “extreme laziness,” Farrell went to work for the Postal Service in 1991 as a contract mail delivery driver, a role he continued until his misconduct came to light in 2010. The investigation was launched after other employees found a load of letters Farrell was to deliver dumped in a recycling bin. Investigators followed Farrell on a route, watching as he spent his day at a tavern before taking the mail to his home and burning it in a fire pit. A search of Farrell's residence at the time uncovered nearly 8,000 letters.

Farrell, it turned out, had no malicious reason for keeping the mail. He just didn't feel like doing the work he was paid for.

"His conduct reflects extreme laziness and a complete lack of consideration for the customers that he serviced," Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods told the court then. "Farrell repeatedly made the decision that he would rather spend his work hours not working, covering up his crime by stoking a fire pit with the very mail that he was supposed to be delivering."

The agent noted the sheds on Farrell’s property – where he is now alleged to have hidden thousands of letters – were not searched in 2010. The woman called investigators at 6:30 a.m. the day after she was interviewed to say she told Farrell she had gone to authorities. Agents searched the property the hours later after obtaining a search warrant. Agents recovered 117 empty postal tubs from the property, as well as the 159 filled tubs, according to court papers. Farrell does not appear to have been arrested in the matter. Read more at: Investigators: Disgraced mailman caught burying thousands of letters -

Bottom line …

What has become of the United States Postal Service? And they wonder why people prefer to ship critical documents by private courier services and overwhelmingly choose e-mail over snail-mail. But, I am most shocked that the storied United States Postal Inspectors – some of the best federal investigators ever – did not conduct a thorough search and investigation.

As for the lazy mail carrier, perhaps now he will serve the prison time he deserves for interrupting so many lives.

-- steve

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

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