U.S Postal Service Workers Play 'Scama Claus,' Plunder Operation Santa Donations
NEW YORK—October 29, 2015—How low can one go? Well, there’s a trio of part-time U.S. Postal Service employees who have managed to lower the bar on unethical behavior.
Despite deceiving good Samaritans into unwittingly sending her presents such as laptop computers, iPads and other gifts under the guise of the Operation Santa program, Mahogany Strickland, 23, pleaded guilty last week to only misdemeanor charges of carrying letters fraudulently in order to obtain property. With the plea, prosecutors dropped the more damaging federal charges of mail fraud, conspiracy and receipt of stolen mail.
Strickland will face a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail when she is sentenced next February (the co-defendants’ cases have not been resolved). The more serious charges could have landed the trio in prison for 20 years.
Strickland, along with co-defendants Terry Jackson and Nickyeves Saintalbord, posed as underprivileged kids while writing “Dear Santa” letters, requesting electronics and clothing, among other items. The trio included their own addresses, so that unsuspecting benefactors would send the crooks the goods directly.
They would also bamboozle the system by swapping out the addresses of actual needy families with their own for gifts that had already been donated. Jackson allegedly had 50 packages rerouted to his home address. Speaking of which, Strickland’s Manhattan residence is located on St. Nicholas Avenue.
Strickland sometimes operated the Operation Santa table at the James A. Farley Post Office in Manhattan, where she placed the letters contrived by her and her accomplices at the top of the pile, the New York Post reported, citing court papers. She sometimes even handed the letters to donors who were seeking letters from children requesting Christmas presents.
The scam unraveled when two of the gifts self-addressed to Strickland’s home came back to the post office. According to the paper, a warrant revealed the purloined gifts contained clothes, boots and a toy train.
Strickland was charged in June and fired by the USPS.