A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging United States Postal Service (USPS) worker Jaleesa Wallace with stealing blank postal money orders and unemployment benefits cards. Wallace was arrested this morning and her initial appearance is scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge James R. Cho. On July 9, 2021, Willie Cook, an alleged co-conspirator, was arrested for stealing USPS money orders in connection with the scheme. Cook was released on a $25,000 bond.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Matthew Modafferi, Special Agent-in-Charge, USPS, Office of the Inspector General (USPS-OIG), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), 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 Acting United States Attorney Kasulis. “This Office will vigorously prosecute government employees who exploit their positions for personal gain and abuse the public trust.” Ms. Kasulis expressed her gratitude to the investigators of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the USPS-OIG and NYPD for their outstanding work on the case.
“The Special Agents of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General help to maintain the integrity of the Postal Service and its personnel. 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. We’d like to thank the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, New York Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for our strong relationships and their dedication to supporting our mission,” stated USPS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Modafferi.
As set forth in court filings, in February 2021, 10,000 blank postal money orders were reported missing from the Utica Avenue Post Office in Brooklyn. The postal money orders can be deposited with a financial institution for up to $1,000 each. On July 9, 2021, agents executed search warrants and recovered over 3,000 of the stolen postal money orders from Wallace’s residence and approximately 300 from Cook’s residence. At least $1.4 million worth of the stolen postal money orders had been cashed. Agents also recovered prepaid Department of Labor unemployment benefit cards and over $42,000 in cash from both apartments. Additionally, Wallace was in possession of approximately 42 pieces of mail from the Department of Labor that were not in her name. Cook 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. Cook is not a USPS employee.
The charges in the complaints are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The investigation is ongoing.
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.
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-MJ-808
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-MJ-802