It is commonplace for individuals desperately seeking a high to resort to any measure possible to obtain sources of it. However, if one is a government servant, how far can one go in order to get high or make a quick buck on the side? Steal? Engage in dereliction of duty? Well, a 53-year-old former US Postal Service supervisor resorted to both, and now finds himself in prison for stealing marijuana from a confiscated package.
Howard Kerns, from Dearing, Georgia, was sentenced to two months in federal prison after he pled guilty to the felony crime of 'Theft of Mail Matter by a Postal Employee'. His sentence will be followed by two years of supervised release.
"Integrity of our US Mail is dependent on the honesty of postal employees. Howard Kerns is the rare exception of workers who fail that test, and is being held accountable for that failure," said David H. Estes, Acting US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, in a statement.
A Confiscated Package
According to testimonies and court documents, Kerns had previously worked at the post office in Evans in Columbia County, Georgia. He was working at the post office in Brunswick, Georgia as Postal Service supervisor, when a delivery arrived in August 2020. The package was suspected to contain marijuana.
The package was placed on a shelf in the postmaster's office by workers at the post office. It was awaiting evaluation by a postal inspector from the US Postal Inspection Service. While it is a felony crime to steal postal packages by employees, the recreational use and sale of marijuana are also illegal in the state of Georgia (except under a few provisions).
It was later discovered by the postal management that the package had been tampered with: it had been opened and resealed, with some of its contents having been removed. The US Postal Service Office of Inspector General was informed of this to facilitate further investigation. After being questioned, Kerns admitted that he had stolen the contents of the package.
"The vast majority of Postal Service employees are honest, hardworking individuals who would never violate the public trust. An employee who decides otherwise will be aggressively investigated by USPS OIG special agents," expressed Jonathan Ulrich, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Southern Area Field Office.