BANGOR, Maine — A Bangor woman who admitted stealing mail in seven area communities in search of checks and credit cards that she used to fuel her gambling and drug addictions was sentenced Thursday to 3½ years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.
Angela Amy Curtis, 26, also was ordered to pay $14,661.87 in restitution to her victims and to continue mental health and substance abuse treatment during a sentencing hearing before U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Court documents say that between September and November of 2010, Curtis stole mail from post office boxes in Glenburn, Hudson, Bucksport, Hermon, Orono, Bangor and Veazie.
She cashed several checks she found in the mail, in some cases using a stolen driver’s license. She also stole a replacement credit card she found in one of the mailboxes and used personal information, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, she found in the mail to apply for other credit cards, according to the federal complaint filed against her.
Curtis pleaded guilty on March 9 to aggravated identity theft, bank fraud, access device fraud and mail theft.
During Thursday’s hearing, Woodcock noted that the trail of victims Curtis left in her wake included not only financial institutions but also individuals.
He said the 15 victim impact statements include one from a woman who missed an unemployment hearing because Curtis stole the notice that the Maine Department of Labor had mailed her. That reportedly triggered a series of financial problems that ultimately led to her having to file for bankruptcy last year.
Another statement came from an elderly man who was pulled over by a police officer and later convicted of driving without a license because he never received the certification he needed to prove he was capable of continuing to drive from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Woodcock noted during the hearing.
Though not all of the victims suffered a financial loss, most said they felt violated by Curtis’ actions, Woodcock noted.
“She intruded on their privacy and she caused a profound sense of vulnerability,” he said.
Woodcock also noted that Curtis had “a tendency to portray herself as a victim,” blaming others for problems in her life that resulted from her own decisions.
In a 27-page letter Curtis wrote the court as part of her presentencing investigation, she wrote that she had a difficult childhood, moving to the West Coast to live with an aunt and suffering emotional abuse, Woodcock said. She said she began drinking at the age of 14 and engaged in a period of heavy drinking from the ages of 21 to 24.
Curtis also wrote that she began abusing prescription drugs after her boyfriend introduced her to them.
“That was your decision,” Woodcock told Curtis during the hearing.
Woodcock also said that Curtis claimed that she began stealing checks and credit cards after she became addicted to the slots at Hollywood Casino and found herself unable to make rent.
“Plenty of people go to Hollywood [Casino] and don’t end up stealing from other people,” he said, later adding, “You need to accept responsibility for the choices you made.”
While Woodcock credited Curtis with having a lifetime ban from Hollywood Casino imposed on herself and other steps she has taken in an attempt to make things right, he pointed out that she had not made even a token attempt to repay her victims.
“It would have shown me you were serious about repaying your victims,” he said.
According to federal prosecutors, the investigation into Curtis’ criminal activity began when a Penobscot County sheriff’s deputy received a large bag of stolen mail that Curtis had abandoned in a bedroom of her parents’ home when she moved out in September 2010.
County law enforcement officials turned the bag over to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
In November of that year, a Maine State Police trooper caught Curtis stealing mail from a box in Glenburn and recovered a paper bag full of mail from her. In December, a postal inspector collected more pieces of stolen mail that Curtis had left at her parents’ home.
“Ms. Curtis was caught, she didn’t stop,” Woodcock noted.
Curtis was overcome by emotion when asked if she wanted to address the court before her sentence was delivered. She began reading a prepared statement but her lawyer, Christopher Smith, finished for her.
In her letter, she apologized to her victims and said she had learned from her mistakes. Curtis, whose parents are deaf, said she wants to become a sign language interpreter.
Curtis’ conviction was the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with help from the Maine State Police, the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and the Bangor, Bucksport, Orono and Veazie police departments.