Cape Girardeau postal worker convicted of stealing mail

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A jury on Wednesday found a former U.S. Postal Service letter carrier guilty of charges accusing him of stealing and failing to deliver customers’ mail.

After a trial lasting less than two days, Robert Gafford, 33, of Jackson, Missouri, was found guilty of one count of delaying or destroying mail and one count of embezzlement of mail.

Gafford worked out of the Cape Girardeau Post Office annex at the time and was responsible for delivering mail on a rural route in or near Scott City, Missouri. In late 2021, the postmaster received complaints from a couple on Gafford’s delivery route that they were not receiving their mail, including bills, some packages, and a driver’s license, according to evidence and testimony presented at the trial. The couple have Informed Delivery, a Postal Service program that provides pictures of the mail that is scheduled to be delivered to their address that day. The couple sent postal officials images of mail that was not delivered. The postmaster had a supervisor check daily for mail addressed to the couple. There were days when their mail was not delivered and officials found it at the post office and days in which the mail could not be located, according to evidence and trial testimony. When confronted by supervisors and told he must deliver the mail, Gafford said did not like the location of the victims’ mailbox, according to court records. He was also issued a warning.

Frustrated when their mail was still not being delivered, the couple mailed an Apple AirTag tracking device to themselves and traced it to Gafford’s home when it wasn’t delivered to theirs, the trial showed. A special agent with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General then sent a test piece of mail with a tracking device. Investigators watched as Gafford stopped at his personal vehicle before leaving post office property in his mail vehicle that day. They also independently tracked Gafford’s postal vehicle as he skipped the couple’s mailbox. They tracked the test piece to Gafford’s personal vehicle after he left the post office, then pulled him over and seized the test piece and the couple’s other undelivered mail from his SUV’s glove box, the trial showed. 

Gafford is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21. Each charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both prison and a fine.

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Hahn and Christopher Shelton are prosecuting the case.

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