A U.S. Post Office worker has been charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stamps and gambling away the proceeds.
Here's what you need to know
Ryan S. Cortez was the manager of customer service operations at North Kenner Post Office in Kenner, Louisiana. According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Paypal and eBay informed agents working with the U.S. Post Office's Office of Inspector General that Cortez was selling huge quantities of stamps. When the OIG looked into the matter, they said they discovered that Cortez had been using his position at the Post Office to over order more than $600,000 worth of stamps. The Post Office went from having an average supply of between $50,000 to $70,000 worth of stamps to having a supply worth $630,000 last month.
A subpoena revealed that Cortez had allegedly been depositing large sums of money in his bank account, including $58,730 in one month. The memo line on checks reportedly deposited by Cortez identified the money as coming from the sale of stamps. One check for $3,868,75 from July 10 allegedly revealed that it came from the sale of "10,000 Forever Stamps." This meant that Cortez was allegedly selling 50 cent forever stamps at a discount price of 38 cents.
Authorities said Cortez used the money to gamble at Harrah's Casino in New Orleans. He reportedly lost $667,000 since 2011 including $220,000 in 2017. Cortez reportedly told the OIG agents that he was a gambling addict and that the money had been used to pay for his addiction. Investigators said he also confessed that he had also been forging signatures on checks in order to embezzle money from a Mennonite church, and told the OIG agents where he could find the church's checkbook.
Cortez was arrested Wednesday after a search warrant for his residence was issued by a federal magistrate judge. Cortez could face up to 10 years in prison, three additional years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
Postal authorities say that this was one of the largest internal thefts ever committed by a U.S. Postal Service employee.