Courts

Former USPS Contractors Allegedly Swiped $4 Million Worth of Mail in Texas

The alleged scheme ended sometime in early March this year, according to court documents.
The alleged scheme ended sometime in early March this year, according to court documents. Photo by Pope Moysuh on Unsplash
Two Texas-based postal contractors sifted through mail looking for cash, gift cards, checks and money orders, court documents allege. They’d stash what they could find in 55-gallon trash bags at their homes.

Their loot included a $25,728 check made payable to a telecom co-op and a $15,000 check to a consulting group, among other valuables. Now, they’re facing federal charges and up to 45 years in prison, according to a U.S Department of Justice press release.

The postal contractors, Joe Roy Rivas III and Jessica Lynn Solomon worked for a company called Cargo Force Inc. Cargo Force contracts with the U.S. Postal Service to load mail in and out of air containers headed to the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport.

They were both arrested last month for possession of stolen mail and conspiracy to possess stolen mail.

Through an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Slaton Police Department, more than 8,000 pieces of stolen mail were recovered. It was all worth over $4 million. The seizure of stolen mail marks the largest ever in the Northern District of Texas history, according to the DOJ press release.

In an email, Cargo Force said it is cooperating with local law enforcement and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in their investigation but couldn't comment further. The company operates 14 airport facilities throughout the U.S. to support the Postal Service. Last month, Cargo Force won another seven-year, $100 million contract with USPS.

“Unfortunately, a small number of employees abuse the public’s trust by delaying or stealing the mail.” – U.S. Postal Service

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Some of the biggest scores Rivas and Solomon allegedly made included a $2 million check to Pershing, LLC and a $241,863 check to Sodexo Inc. & Affiliates, a food services company.

Rivas and Solomon face up to 45 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Arrested in October, the two are no longer employed by Cargo Force. Rivas has hired a private attorney but hasn’t yet entered a plea. Solomon has a public defender and is pleading not guilty.

“I hereby assert my Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to remain silent and to have counsel present at any and all interactions with the government or its agents,” Solomon said in court documents.

The two attorneys didn't respond for comment. Rivas arraignment is scheduled for early this month and Solomon has a jury trial set for Dec. 6.

Similar theft rings have cropped up in other states around the country. In Nevada this year, a former USPS contractor admitted to stealing and opening mail from at least 67 people. Also this year, a former contractor for the Postal Service in Kansas City, Missouri, admitted he stole cash and gift cards out of mail from 30 people to give to his girlfriend.

​​"The overwhelming majority of Postal Service employees work conscientiously to move the nation’s mail to its proper destination,” the USPS website says. "Unfortunately, a small number of employees abuse the public’s trust by delaying or stealing the mail."

The USPS website says special agents with the Office of Inspector General work to identify and investigate dishonest employees to have them prosecuted and removed from the Postal Service.

Between October 2019 and September 2020, Office of Inspector General special agents conducted 1,221 internal mail theft investigations. These resulted in 333 arrests, 1,000 administrative actions, and approximately $588,000 in monetary benefit for the Postal Service.
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn