Ex-postal worker gets 5 years probation, $8,000 fine for stealing vets’ painkillers

Posted Feb. 27, 2014, at 9:40 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A former worker at the postal sorting facility in Hampden was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to five years of probation in connection with her theft of prescription painkillers intended for veterans.

Michelle Trask, 48, of Corinth also was ordered to pay an $8,000 fine and more than $558 in restitution, according to information posted on the court’s electronic case filing system.

Trask waived indictment in June and pleaded guilty to one count of theft of stolen mail matter between April 2012 and Oct. 13, 2012, during which time she was caught on hidden video camera removing a package from a mail bin at the Hampden facility, according to the prosecution version of events to which she pleaded guilty.

She had been free on $5,000 unsecured bail since entering her guilty plea.

Trask was hired by the United States Postal Service in 1989, according to the prosecution version. For the last 10 years of her employment, she was the maintenance manager at the Hampden sorting facility and responsible for maintaining and repairing mail sorting equipment.

The investigation that led to Trask’s conviction began in April 2012 when two Maine veterans reported that they had not received prescriptions of hydrocodone mailed to them. That led to an investigation within the USPS.

Trask admitted stealing 1,300 hydrocodone pills intended for veterans on 13 separate occasions, the court document said. She was caught on camera on June 29, Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and Sept. 22, 2012, taking packages from large bins toward her office in a small bin and, a few minutes later, returning fewer packages to the large bins.

She resigned when her theft was discovered, according to defense attorney Terence Harrigan of Bangor. In 2012, Trask was on a medication regimen that caused her to have poor impulse control, Harrigan said Thursday in an email.

Trask apologized Wednesday for her actions, the attorney said.

Her statement to U.S. District Judge John Woodcock was included in Harrigan’s email.

“First I would like to say I am extremely sorry for what I have done,” she said. “I betrayed the trust that my family, the USPS and their customers had placed in me and wish I had not done what I did. I blame absolutely nobody but myself and take full responsibility for my actions.

“I have learned through ongoing treatment how medication can affect a person’s judgment which is a real eye opener for me,” she continued. “I will never return to what I did in 2012. I continue to see a therapist and am very grateful for the guidance and help he has given me with rehabilitation and moving forward with my life.”

Trask faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

 

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