USPS mail carriers accused of holiday season mischief, officials say

One mail carrier said he was overwhelmed by his holiday deliveries, authorities said.

An assistant mail carrier dumped about 1,000 pieces of mail in a garbage can and another carrier admitted he had pilfered about $1,000 worth of gift cards, according to postal and federal officials.

Daniel Darby, a “city carrier assistant” for the USPS since November, pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Tuesday charging him with dumping three Santa-sized garbage sacks full of mail. He was released on $50,000 bond.

James Hayden, who allegedly confessed he had stolen 50 gift cards in the past year and who has worked as a carrier technician for the USPS since March 2013, was released on $75,000 bond after his Tuesday arraignment in Brooklyn federal court.

Ages and neighborhoods of the accused men “falls under employee privacy” and were not released by the USPS, said a spokeswoman. Officials did not know when the two would next appear in court and an attorney said to represent the two men did not respond to requests for comment.

Darby began working at the Hollis Post Office in Queens, but was told on Dec. 2 to report to the Ozone Park Post Office. He confessed to investigators that he went to a Stop and Shop that day, where he bought three white garbage bags that he filled with mail and dumped in a garbage can because “he was overwhelmed by the quantity of mail he was responsible for delivering,” according to a criminal complaint.

Darby “also acknowledged that he ripped open some of the mail to see what it contained,” viewed it and “tampered with it,” according to the affidavit of an agent with the USPS Office of Inspector General.

Investigators were tipped to Hayden’s alleged thefts after a Florida woman complained in August that her son in Red Hook failed to receive a $100 Visa gift card she had sent him; surveillance footage allegedly showed Hayden making purchases with the card.

Hayden even used the address of the Red Hook Post Office to have merchandise sent to him paid for with a missing Amazon gift card and in his wallet were “several gift cards that he admitted taking from the mail,” said the affidavit.

It is not known if victims will receive restitution for their stolen gift cards or if the dumped mail has since been forwarded to its intended recipients. But Matt Modafferi, an assistant special agent in charge, said that typically dumped or recovered mail is “returned to the mail stream” after prosecutors have no further use for it. The investigation is ongoing, said Modafferi, who asked that other residents with missing mail call the hotline at 888-USP-SOIG or log on to uspsoig.gov to file a complaint.

Sheila Anne Feeney