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Brooklyn postal worker charged with stealing thousands of blank money orders, unemployment benefit cards

July 13, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A Brooklyn postal worker was charged in Brooklyn Federal Court on Tuesday with stealing blank postal money orders and unemployment benefit cards, allegedly giving her and a co-worker access to more than $3 million in cash.

The employee, Jeleesa Wallace of the Utica Avenue Post Office, was arrested Tuesday morning and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge James R. Cho, E.D.N.Y. 

On July 9, 2021, Willie Cook, an alleged co-conspirator, was also arrested for stealing U.S. Postal Service money orders as part of the scheme. Cook was released on a $25,000 bond, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District.

In February 2021, 10,000 blank postal money orders were reported missing from the Utica Avenue Post Office in Brooklyn, according to court filings. The postal money orders can be deposited with a financial institution for up to $1,000 each. 

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On July 9, agents executed search warrants and recovered more than 3,000 of the stolen postal money orders from Wallace’s residence and approximately 300 from Cook’s residence, according to reports. At least $1.4 million worth of the stolen postal money orders had been cashed. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cho, E.D.N.Y. Photo courtesy of Asian American Bar Association

Agents also recovered prepaid Department of Labor unemployment benefit cards and more than $42,000 in cash from both apartments. Additionally, Wallace possessed 42 pieces of mail from the Department of Labor that were not addressed to her, according to the U.S Attorney’s Office. 

Cook, who is not a U.S. Postal Service employee, posted photos of stolen postal money orders on the social media app Telegram with the caption “let’s eat,” referring to getting paid for the postal money orders, according to the charges. 

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Matthew Modafferi, special agent-in-charge, USPS, Office of the Inspector General (USPS-OIG); and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced the charges. 

“As alleged, the defendant, a trusted public servant, pilfered thousands of postal money orders from the Postal Service and had in her possession Department of Labor unemployment benefit cards, giving her and her co-conspirator access to more than $3 million in cash,” stated United States Attorney Kasulis.

“When a Postal Service employee breaks the trust of the American public and participates in schemes to defraud the government, our Agents will work tirelessly to help bring those responsible to justice,” said USPS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Modafferi. 

The government’s case is being handled by the office’s General Crimes Section. Assistant United States Attorney Samantha Alessi is in charge of the prosecution with assistance from Assistant United States Attorneys Garen Marshall and Dylan Stern.

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