Gary Wayne Collins, 53, of Forest, City, N.C., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, and pleaded guilty to detaining and delaying U.S. mail in Cleveland and Rutherford Counties, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Paul L. Bowman, Area Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG) joins U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and the plea hearing, on April 15, 2014, a witness observed Collins placing several tubs of mail behind a dumpster in Shelby, N.C. The witness notified the local Postmaster and the tubs of mail were recovered. The Postmaster determined that the recovered tubs contained deliverable mail for addresses on Collins’ delivery route, who at the time was a U.S. Postal Service Rural Carrier. Court records indicate that when postal agents interviewed Collins two days later, Collins told the agents that he had never intended to dump any mail and that he had left the tubs near the dumpster only temporarily, intending to return later to pick them up. Collins also told the agents that he had never thrown away any mail or stored it at his residence. The mail recovered on April 15, 2014, comprised 1,513 pieces, including 628 pieces of First-Class mail and three parcels.
According to court documents, in May 2014, postal agents discovered more than 1,800 pieces of undelivered mail hidden in Collins’ residence and his vehicle. The undelivered mail included 134 pieces of First-Class mail dating as far back as April 2000. Court records indicate that postal agents also found additional pieces of undelivered mail inside a partially-collapsed outbuilding located on Collins’ property. to court records, the Postal Service used a backhoe to remove two full-sized dump truck loads of mail from the outbuilding. That mail could not be salvaged due to extensive weather damage and had to be destroyed. Collins admitted in court yesterday that for approximately ten years he had been bringing to his residence the mail that he had not delivered.
Collins pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully destroying, detaining and delaying U.S. mail, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Collins was released on bond following his plea hearing. A sentencing date has not been set yet.
The investigation was led by USPS-OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Edwards, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, is prosecuting the case.