Say They Took Jewelry, Electronics
Two men were charged last week with allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, jewelry, electronics, and other goods from express mail parcels at a U.S. postal facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport, it was announced.
Federal law enforcement sources said Clive Bennett, 50, of Queens Village and Brian Wilson, 25, of Brooklyn had their initial appearances last Wednesday, Mar. 21, before United States Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn.
Both men were released on $100,000 bonds.
The charges and arrests were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Ronald J. Verrochio, postal inspector in charge, United States Postal Inspection Service; and Janice K. Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
According to the complaint and information presented by the government at their court appearance, Bening nett and Wilson are responsible for a string of more than a dozen thefts from express mail parcels, which occurred between approximately Jan. 12 and Mar. 16.
The men, who are not U.S. postal employees, work for a private company that provides mail-handling services in connection with the delivery of air mail to the post office.
In early 2012, based on reports of missing items, postal inspectors, with substantial assistance from the FBI, launched an intensive investigation, reviewing hours of surveillance footage from the JFK postal facility and conducting surveillance of mail handlers over the course of several weeks.
From concealed observation posts, postal inspectors observed the men and their work space while FBI agents conducted additional surveillance operations aimed at recovering the stolen items.
The investigation revealed numerous instances in which Bennett and Wilson moved express mail bags to isolated areas of their work space, where they rifled through parcels and removed items.
Last Tuesday, Mar. 20, postal inspectors and special agents of the FBI simultaneously executed search warrants and arrested both Bennett and Wilson. Items recovered during the searches included diamonds, jewelry, and electronics that matched the descriptions of the items reported stolen.
As noted in the complaint, the stolen items included diamonds and jewelry valued by the senders at approximately $50,000 and portable electronic devices, such as a smartphone and an iPod.
“[Bennett and Wilson] allegedly stole valuable personal and commercial items from the U.S. mail, including diamonds, electronics, and other merchandise. Such actions serve not only to stifle personal communication, but to choke the flow of commerce- the lifeblood of our economy,” Lynch said. “Individuals and businesses alike must be able to trust that their communications and packages will be safely and securely transported. We will take all steps necessary to protect the mail so the public can continue to rely on the U.S. Postal Service to safely transport letters and goods around the world.”
Verrochio added, “This is a textbook example of solid police work and teamwork on everyone’s part. We are proud to have prevented so many people from becoming further victimized, which could have caused considerable further financial damage and personal inconvenience.”
Fedarcyk stated, “As the saying goes, neither snow nor rain will deter mail carriers from their appointed rounds. However, when criminals exploit their access to U.S. mail to steal it, it is up to the FBI and the Postal Inspection Service to catch them.”
Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the postal inspectors and FBI agents and added that the government’s investigation is continuing.
Theft of items from the U.S. mail is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment for each count of conviction.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth DuCharme and Justin Lerer.