Target 8: Letter carrier arrested for mail theft had criminal record

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WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — The mailman accused of stealing cash and gift cards from customers on his Wyoming route is facing federal charges.

The complaint filed by the United States Attorney’s Office in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids alleges that Alexis Odelin, 26, stole $452 worth of gift cards, cash and other valuable items from greeting cards sent to residents on his mail route.

Target 8 first reported the allegations against Odelin in June after a customer recorded the former mailman on camera.

“That was our mailman,” said Judy Benham, who lives on 43rd Street off Byron Center Avenue.

Benham doesn’t think Odelin stole mail from her, but she wants to know why the United States Postal Service hired a man with a recent criminal history.

Target 8 discovered that Odelin pleaded guilty to shoplifting just two months before the USPS hired him in October 2015. In fact, Odelin was still on probation for the shoplifting case when he started work as a letter carrier.

“So why did they hire him?” questioned Benham.

That’s still not clear, especially since postal authorities told Target 8 that they check the backgrounds of potential employees before they hire them.

“Employees are given an initial background screening prior to reporting for work which covers the jurisdiction in which they live or attend school,” the USPS wrote in an email to Target 8.

“Upon entry into the U.S. Postal Service, a deeper national background check including an FBI fingerprint check is performed by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service,” the statement continued.

But in Odelin’s case, the agency didn’t need to do a deeper national background check. Records in Wyoming city court show Odelin’s conviction for shoplifting from a Walmart in July 2015, three months before he started delivering mail to Wyoming residents, many of whom live in Ramblewood Apartments.

USPS officials told Target 8 earlier this summer that it was already investigating Odelin for lying on his job application when customers started complaining about missing mail.

“The Postal Service employs over 600,000 career and non-career employees in a variety of roles across the organization. And while we do our best to identify issues that impede an individual’s ability to perform their position successfully, a limited number of incidents such as the one you’ve inquired upon do arise. Each situation is evaluated by the local USPS leadership team prior to taking any employment action. The security and safety of our employees, and the customers we serve, are of paramount concern. Our personnel security procedures are periodically reviewed and revised to address opportunities to strengthen and improve our processes,” the USPS stated.

As for Odelin, Target 8 has learned that he is considering taking a plea deal that would carry a prison sentence of zero to five years.

In an additional statement to Target 8, USPS officials stood behind its employees.

“The vast majority of U.S. Postal Service personnel are dedicated, hard-working public servants dedicated to moving mail to its proper destination who would never consider engaging in any form of criminal behavior. This type of alleged behavior within the Postal Service is not tolerated and when a postal employee betrays that trust of the American people, the special agents in the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General vigorously investigate these matters as we did in this instance and work with local, state and federal prosecutors to hold accountable those employees who violate that public trust.”

The USPS urges anyone who encounters fraud mail theft or other postal crimes to contact its OIG hotline at 1-888-USPS-OIG.

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