Woman suspected of theft of checks from mailboxes

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 02, 2010, at 8:27 p.m.

VEAZIE, Maine — A Bangor-area woman suspected of stealing and cashing checks from mailboxes around the Bangor area was arrested Monday afternoon at Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway, bringing an end to a crime spree that police say spanned months.

Though she has not yet been charged in connection with the alleged check scheme, the woman, 25, is being held at the Penobscot County Jail on warrants for unpaid fines for unrelated activities, Veazie police Sgt. Keith Emery said Tuesday. The Bangor Daily News is not identifying her because she has not been charged in the case.

Though a total has not yet been calculated for the amount of money the woman is believed to have stolen, Emery said the amount is in the thousands of dollars.

In some cases, he said, she stole boxes of checks that bank customers had ordered but had never received, then made checks out to herself and cashed them. He pegged the total that she stole from Veazie residents alone at nearly $4,000.

He said that when he spoke with the suspect, she told him she was stealing the money to pay for her gambling habit.

Emery said that she told him she “cannot control it. I mean, she shows extreme remorse for everybody that she’s ripped off, but she had no control over it. She kept wanting to turn herself in, but she said she didn’t have the guts.”

Emery said investigators from Veazie, Orono, the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and likely other area law enforcement agencies have turned over what they have dug up to U.S. Postal Inspector Michael Desrosiers.

Emery said Desrosiers has launched a federal investigation into allegations that the woman stole checks from area mailboxes, cashing some using her own ID and depositing others into the bank accounts of her victims and then making checks out to herself.

Before she began hitting area mail routes, Emery said, she had been stealing money out of co-workers’ purses and wallets. Bangor Daily News archives show that she has recent convictions for theft and forgery.

Emery said that area police began receiving reports of stolen checks in late September.

“Basically, there were two things she was doing,” said Emery, who interviewed the suspect at the county jail.

“She was randomly checking mailboxes around the time that mail was being delivered,” he said. “The other thing she was doing was looking for mailboxes with the flags up,” indicating there was mail to be picked up by the letter carrier.

Emery said it appears the woman was working alone.

“We can’t show there’s an accomplice, and she adamantly denies working with anybody,” Emery said. “She said she lied to her family, her boyfriend. She would tell her friends and boyfriend that she was out shopping while she was out stealing.

“When her boyfriend asked her where she got the money, she would tell him she applied for one of those payday loans online, and I have no reason to doubt her,” he said. “We have no video evidence supporting anybody else other than her” being involved in the scheme.

Emery said some of the people she stole from may not yet know they’ve been hit. He recommended that people who see unusual activity on their bank or credit card accounts contact their local police department.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/11/02/news/bangor/woman-suspected-of-theft-of-checks-from-mailboxes/ printed on December 25, 2014