JFK mail sorter accusing of stealing troop mail

JFK mail sorter accusing of stealing troop mail
By Rich Bockmann

The Invicta watch company plans to replace a timepiece that police said a mail sorter working at John F. Kennedy International Airport was wearing when he was arrested last week for allegedly pilfering packages that were headed for U.S. military troops in Germany, authorities said.

Officers from the Port Authority Police Department arrested 41-year-old Terrence Ralph, of Brooklyn, May 15 and charged him with petit larceny for allegedly stealing $570 worth of goods from packages he opened as they headed through the U.S. Postal Service sorting center, according to PAPD spokesman Al Della Fave.

“It appears that while he was employed there he was opening and taking items from packages destined for U.S. military troops abroad,” Della Fave said.

Ralph was employed by Cargo Air Services sorting mail on behalf of the postal service out of JFK’s Building 43, he added.

The sorter was charged with stealing a bracelet valued at $300, a cell phone with a value of $150 and a cell phone case/charger valued at $20 in addition to the $100 Invicta watch he was allegedly wearing when authorities brought him in to be interviewed, Della Fave said.

Donna Harris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said investigators were tipped off by service members who registered complaints about tampered mail.

“People were expecting their packages and when they got them they had been rifled through and tampered with,” she said. “There were things missing from the mail, stuff from family members or things ordered online.”

Harris added the Invicta company has said it would replace the watch Ralph is alleged to have stolen.

The Inspection Service surveilled Ralph for about a week before notifying the police. Harris said investigators were aware of only a few packages Ralph allegedly went through, and at this time he has only been charged under state — as opposed to federal — law.

“As the investigation continues, if we find something in addition that needs to be looked at, we will look at that,” Harris said. “If it’s determined that it’s more widespread, then at that point we will re-evaluate the charges.”

Ralph is next due in Queens court June 21, and the Inspection Service’s investigation was ongoing.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.