USPS worker faces 114 felonies for mail theft

Police: USPS employee stolen thousands of pieces of mail throughout Portland

Mail reportedly stolen by a USPS employee
Mail reportedly stolen by a USPS employee

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A 32-year-old man employed by the United State Postal Service (USPS) pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon on allegations he stole more than 10,000 individual pieces of mail from across the city.

John Paul Osburn, 32, shown in a jail booking photo after being arrested by Portland Police (Credit: MCSO)
John Paul Osburn, 32, shown in a jail booking photo after being arrested by Portland Police (Credit: MCSO)

John Paul Osburn was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center early Friday morning on 114 counts of felony mail theft, 30 counts of identity theft and one count each of possession of methamphetamine and possession of a loaded firearm.

Federal officials confirmed Friday the joint investigation between USPS and Portland Police Bureau also resulted in the arrest of Shawna Marie Deweese Barrett.

Portland Police Detective Travis Fields arrested Osburn at 2:18 p.m. Thursday in the 4300 block of Southeast 122nd Avenue, according to police and jail records.

Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Masters said Osburn’s title is City Carrier Assistant. Masters — who heads the local branch of the Office of Inspector General for USPS — said Osburn is assigned to the Rose City Park Post Office, did not have a dedicated route, and is not a full-time employee.

Investigation starts in ‘Storage Wars’-like fashion

The investigation started Tuesday when USPS was notified by a storage unit owner that upon inspection of the unit, the new owner found thousands of pieces of suspected stolen mail inside the unit, police said.

The storage facility, located at 9912 Southeast Division, was purchased by Gerald Decker, court documents state.

Decker told special agents that when he opened the storage unit door, it was “overflowing” with mail, deputy district attorney Kevin Demer wrote in court documents.

The storage unit was filled with mail about five-feet high, Demer wrote. As the special agents were looking through the mail, they noticed most of the packages had been opened and the contents removed, and “that most of the greeting cards were also opened,” Demer wrote.

Special agents sift through mail that was reported stolen by a USPS employee.
Special agents sift through mail that was reported stolen by a USPS employee.

The storage unit was previously registered to Barrett and she stopped making payments on the unit, police said.

Barrett and Osburn have been dating for three years.

“The USPS OIG considers the allegations of delay, destruction, or theft of any U.S. Mail by any Postal Service employee to be a very serious issue. When such allegations are made, the USPS OIG vigorously investigates those allegations, as we did in this instance,” Masters said.

Mail reportedly stolen from seven zip codes

Osburn started working for USPS in June 2013 and has primarily delivered mail in neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland, federal officials said. He also filled in as a delivery person for other areas throughout the city, police said. The mail from the storage unit came from zip codes: 97213, 97266, 97212, 97205, 97215, 97211 and 97233, Demer wrote. The mail was dated from October 2013 to April 2014.

Osburn was stealing all sorts of mail from medicine for veterans to birthday cards sent to grandchildren that was picked up during his routes, and mail that he was supposed to be delivering, police said.

Officials said Osburn was opening the stolen mail looking for checks, cash, electronics and other tangible items. Some of the recovered mail includes package deliveries, expensive electronics and United States Passports, investigators said. The total dollar loss is still being calculated, police said.

Demer wrote he has reviewed a sampling of the mail seized and it includes statements from Oregon PERS, Oregon Department of Human Services, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Oregon DMV, parking tickets, and even a letter from the Multnomah County District Attorney.

Traffic stop leads to gun discovery, ’emergency go bag’

When Osburn was arrested Thursday near Southeast 122nd and Southeast Holgate patrol officers found a loaded assault-style weapon and methamphetamine inside his vehicle, police said.

Mail reportedly stolen by a USPS employee
Mail reportedly stolen by a USPS employee

Police found what they described as an “emergency go bag” inside Osburn’s vehicle. The bag, Demer wrote, contained four credit cards, two gift cards, a passport, a USPS credit card, $74 cash.

“Osburn explained that (the items) could help him run or get away from law enforcement,” Demer wrote.

Osburn told special agents that he has a methamphetamine addiction that contributed to his inability to finish delivery, Demer wrote. Osburn told agents that he started stealing mail after he was assigned to the Lents Post Office a few months after being hired in June 2013, court documents state.

When asked if he felt bad for taking money from greeting cards, “Osburn replied that he did not because he was feeding his child and himself,” court documents state.

Anyone who may have been a victim in this incident will be notified by a representative from the USPS OIG.

Tips on this case should be submitted to USPS OIG by calling: 1-888-USPS-OIG (1-888-877-7644) or via their online Hotline.

Masters said the Office of Inspector General will work with Portland Police, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office on determining where the case will be prosecuted. For now, Masters said, because Oregon is one of the few states in the nation that has its own mail theft statute, which is a class-C felony, the case will be handled locally, but could be presented to a federal grand jury.

His bail has been set at $727,500. His next court date has been set for Oct. 6.

Barrett is charged with two counts of identity theft and three counts of felony mail theft.

She has been released from jail, pending her Friday afternoon court appearance.

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