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Postal worker charged with mail theft

January 06, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

A postal clerk at the Hagerstown Post Office who was charged Wednesday with stealing a $600 ring from a registered parcel in early October said Thursday she will plead guilty to the crime.

Jerrie Lynn Coby, who resigned Wednesday after 12 years with the U.S. Postal Service, said by telephone from her Pennsylvania home that she hopes her former fellow employees will forgive her.

Coby, 44, of Greencastle, Pa., faces one count of mail theft. She was arraigned Wednesday in Baltimore and released, according to U.S. Attorney's Office documents.

The maximum penalty for a mail theft conviction is five years and/or a $250,000 fine, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Norman.

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"I regret my mistake," Coby said Thursday. "I have sought help over the past 10 years, except for postal employee assistance which was never offered."

On Oct. 21, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service received information from Hagerstown Post Office supervisor Robin Wells that a registered first class mail parcel addressed to a Hagerstown woman from a New Market, Md., business had been stolen, court records said.

A check revealed there had been an attempt to deliver that parcel on Oct. 9, but no one was home so the package was returned to the post office, court records said.

That package and five others were left in a mail tray on Wells' desk for the remainder of the Oct. 10-11 holiday weekend when they should have been secured in a vault, a slip attributed to a new employee, court records said.

When one of the six packages was found to be missing, an investigation was initiated, court records said.

That investigation led to an interview with the sender in New Market, who gave a detailed description of the ring and confirmation that the customer never received it, court records said.

A videotape that recorded activity on Oct. 11 and 12 was obtained by postal officials and reviewed, court records said. Those tapes showed Coby taking the tray containing the packages and then returning the tray later on one of those two days, court records alleged.

Based on those videotapes, two registered mail parcels containing jewelry were routed through the Hagerstown Post Office and were handled correctly by Coby, court records said.

The investigation was revived in late December when an anonymous tip led postal inspectors to a Hagerstown pawn shop where the missing ring was found and identified by the New Market store owner who made the ring, court records said.

The pawnbroker said he bought the ring for $40 from a woman wearing a postal jacket a week earlier, court records said. That woman gave a Pennsylvania driver's license with photo for identification that matched Coby's driver's license number, court records said.

Postal authorities in Hagerstown, at the regional office in Frederick and at the Baltimore office had no comment.

Tom Boyle, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Baltimore, confirmed that Coby resigned Wednesday.

"I hope all the residents of Washington County realize there are many, many good employees in the Hagerstown post office who do their work and do it well," Coby said. "I pray they will forgive me."

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