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Federal prosecutors charge postal carrier and 10 others in a series of Northeast Ohio mailbox thefts

A row of drive up blue mailboxes
Allard One
/
Shutterstock
Officials urged residents to only use blue USPS mailboxes during business hours in January after a rash of mail thefts.

Federal prosecutors say a band of mail thieves stole checks from locked blue United States Postal Service boxes across Cuyahoga County, using the checks to execute a fraud scheme resulting in the loss of more than $1.5 million.

Eleven Northeast Ohioans were charged yesterday with conspiracy to commit bank fraud. One of them, United States Postal Service mail carrier Cameron Proctor, 20, of Willowick, was charged with theft of mail by a postal employee. He also is accused of selling keys that opened the locked boxes to other members of the ring.

The others charged are: Elijah S. Payne, 21, of Streetsboro; William D. Saunders, 21, of Cleveland Heights; Tavion L. Bolden, 22, of Cleveland; Rashawn J. Creer, 22, of Cleveland Heights; Maurice A. Mowler, 22, of Kent; Latrent M. Redrick, 25, of Cleveland; Janiya M. N. Smith, 22, of Richmond Heights; Lady M. Walker, 28, of Cleveland; Antoine R. Whitsett, 22, of Euclid and Tyrone Williams, 21, of Euclid.

Payne was charged with further counts of bank fraud and possession of stolen mail.

Saunders, Proctor, Creer, Mowler, Whitsett, and Williams were arrested yesterday. Bolden had previously been arrested. Warrants have been issued for the other defendants.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, the defendants, after allegedly stealing checks from postal boxes, altered and forged them and deposited them in several banks.

The scheme comes just months after an uptick in mail theft in January that caused the postal service to urge Northeast Ohioans to only place their mail in the blue mailboxes in public places during regular business hours.

Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek went further, telling residents to only drop off their mail indoors to prevent theft.

That spate of mail thefts resulted in a federal investigation and a number of arrests. A federal grand jury issued four indictments weeks ago.

Braedon Olsen is a high school intern from University School, where he is a rising senior. He has worked for two years with University School’s newspaper, The University School News, both as a staff writer and as an Editor-in-Chief. Braedon is also a diehard Cleveland sports fan and an avid stat junkie.