BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two post office managers are charged with running a scam, using their jobs to milk the postal service out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Mike Hellgren reports this is an ongoing investigation, and there could be more arrests.
Federal prosecutors say the managers would approve huge maintenance contracts at the Waverly and Pikesville branches, and then demand kickbacks.
The grass is high at the post office in the Waverly neighborhood of North Baltimore, and weeds grow at the Pikesville branch–despite the thousands of dollars spent on landscaping contracts authorized by the branch managers–Kimberly Parnell and Richard Wright III.
The federal government alleges much of the work was never done, and Parnell and Wright would instead pocket check after check in bribes from the contractors–more than $50,000 until investigators caught on to their scheme.
“It’s costing the government money, and the lack of integrity in public office really impacts everybody,” said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney.
The federal affidavit WJZ obtained reveals Postmaster Wright was aggressive about demanding kickbacks, telling one contractor, “I need my loot! U always be screwing me up with ur bs! I need my loot!”
The manager of the post office in Pikesville even admitted she was scared she’d get caught.
With the post office already struggling financially, this breach of trust has frustrated many customers.
“You have a decent job, a decent salary, and you want to make money under the table. I think it’s ridiculous,” said Maurice Gladden, customer.
“When is the honesty going to come about? I mean, period,” said Tyrone Allsup, customer.
“I think that most of the postal service workers are probably fine, honest and hardworking,” said Barbara Cohen, customer.
The U.S. Attorney tells WJZ the Postal Service’s Inspector General is aware of the investigation, and the scandal could bring about changes to stop future abuse of the taxpayer dime.
“If you have people with the discretion to spend government money without appropriate oversight, there’s a significant risk of corruption,” Rosenstein said.
In addition to 37-year-old Wright, of Essex, and 43-year-old Parnell, of Gwynn Oak, two private contractors are charged in the scandal: 37-year-old Shane Anderson, of Windsor Mill, and 46-year-old Ladena Sketers-Anderson, of Randallstown.
If convicted, all four face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
A postal service spokesman says he cannot comment on this ongoing investigation and cannot say whether Parnell and Wright are still employed.
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