The U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office is investigating a GW mail room employee who is suspected of stealing about $5,000 in cash and checks from student mail last month, said Jim Miller, GW Mail Services site manager.
The male employee, who had worked at the University for 60 days, was targeted as a suspect by postal inspectors and later fired for stealing mail that belonged to more than 50 GW students who live on campus, Miller said.
“We were getting more and more calls that mail was missing,” Miller said. “Since he was a new employee and he was working by the area where the residence hall mail was, we thought if it was happening, it was probably him.”
Miller said the suspect was charged and arrested March 19. But U.S. Postal Inspector Doug Bem said the investigation is ongoing, and charges have not been filed.
Miller said the University is working on a way to reimburse students before the end of the school year. Miller said he hopes to compile a list of stolen property to send to postal inspectors by Friday.
The University sent notification letters in March to students affected by the theft. In the letters, Miller apologized for the inconvenience and asked students to contact U.S. Postal Inspector Kevin Niland, who is investigating the case.
“It has recently come to the attention of the GW Mail Services that a small amount of letters addressed to students at GW have turned up missing,” Miller wrote in the March 24 letter.
The investigation began in late February or early March, according to the letter. Miller said he has been in contact with students via phone and e-mail on a daily basis regarding the thefts.
“Mail service has been a problem, and so many people came up to me and said their mail was missing,” said junior Cathy Resler, whose mail was stolen. “I’m pleased with how it has been dealt with by the University.”
Depending on the nature of the crime – whether the mail was delayed or disappeared – the U.S. district attorney can charge the suspect with obstruction of correspondence, which is a federal misdemeanor, or theft of mail, which is a federal felony, Bem said.
“A lot of employees have worked in the mail room for 20 years and this theft is only tarnishing their reputation,” Miller said. “I would hope (the punishment) would be a lot of jail time.”