In Waco, two individuals await sentencing after pleading guilty to federal charges in connection with a postal theft scheme involving more than 50,000 pieces of mail and over $500,000 in other U.S. Government property from U.S. Post Offices in approximately 80 cities and towns across Texas announced U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Inspector in Charge Robert Weymss, Houston Division.
Appearing this afternoon before United States District Judge Walter S. Smith, Jr., 39-year-old Charles Hattenbach of Temple, TX, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal mail, one count of bank fraud, one count of theft of Government property and three counts of aggravated identity theft. Last month, Hattenbach’s co-defendant, 28-year-old Kathryn Hubbert of Temple, TX, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal mail, one count of bank fraud, one count of theft of Government property and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to court records, from December 2013 until March 2014, the defendants conspired to steal U.S. mail and other Government property by breaking into U.S. Post Offices and blue mail receptacle boxes located outside of post offices in an area stretching from Midland to College Station and from Dallas to San Antonio. The defendants stole credit cards, personal checks, business checks, money orders, postage, W-2s, tax returns, items which contained personal identifying information, cash, gift cards and other items belonging to more than 2,000 victims.
The defendants also devised a scheme to defraud several financial institutions, including Extraco Bank in Round Rock, TX, by endorsing and depositing stolen money orders and checks. The defendants subsequently withdrew the deposits causing the financial institutions to lose more than $80,000. The defendants also activated numerous credit cards using victims’ personal identifying information, including names, social security numbers and driver’s license numbers and dates of birth, which they had previously stolen from the mail.
“We take very seriously the integrity of the U.S. mail and will continue to work with the Postal Inspection Service and our law enforcement partners to apprehend and prosecute people who, like the defendants in this case, target the mail to facilitate their criminal enterprises,” stated United States Attorney Robert Pitman.
The defendants targeted United States Post Offices, collection boxes, parcel lockers and post office boxes in the following cities and towns: Alvarado, Austin (Balcones, Bluebonnet, Main, McNeil, Mockingbird, Northcross, South Campus, Southeast, and Town North branches), Bangs, Belton, Blanket, Brenham, Bryan, Buchanan Dam, Buckholts, Burton, Cameron, Campbellton, Carmine, Cedar Park, Chapel Hill, Clifton, Coleman, College Station, Colorado City, Copperas Cove, Corpus Christi (Gulfway branch), Dripping Springs, Early, Elgin, Florence, Gause, Georgetown, Gustine, Harker Heights, Hearne, Heidenheimer, Hewitt, Hillsboro, Holland, Hutto, Jerrell, Jonesboro, Kemper, Killeen, Lampasas, Lawn, Leander, Ledbetter, Liberty Hill, Lockhart, Loraine, Lorena, May, McDade, Meridian, Merkel, Midland, Milano, Millican, Mound, Navasota, Nolanville, Novice, Paige, Pendleton, Pflugerville, Red Oak, Rising Star, Roby, Rockport, Rogers, Rosebud, Round Rock, Salado, San Angelo, San Marcos, Santa Anna, Sinton, Sterling City, Sweetwater, Taylor, Temple, Thorndale, Treat, Troy, Tye, Valley Mills, Waco (Highlander and Woodway branches), Walnut Springs, Washington and Weir.
Hattenbach, who remains in federal custody, is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:00pm on September 10, 2014, before Judge Smith. Sentencing for Hubbert, who is currently on bond, is scheduled for 1:00pm on August 20, 2014, before Judge Smith. Hattenbach and Hubbert face up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to steal U.S. Mail; up to 30 years in federal prison for bank fraud; up to ten years in federal prison for theft of Government property; and, consecutive two-year federal prison terms for each aggravated identity theft charge. A restitution amount, consisting of stolen funds, proceeds derived from the scheme, losses incurred by victims and property damage among other things, will be determined at sentencing.
“The Postal Inspection Service has sought those who steal mail for hundreds of years. The ability to use the mail in a safe and secure manner is at the core of the Postal Inspection Service’s mission,” stated USPIS Inspector in Charge Robert Weymss.
This case resulted from an investigation conducted by USPIS and the Bell County Organized Crime Task Force (BCOTF). The BCOTF is comprised of investigators from the United States Marshals Service, Bell County Sheriff’s Office and police departments from Temple, Belton, Killeen, Copperas Cove and Harker Heights. Assistant United States Attorney Greg Gloff is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.