Theft of $25 gift card costs postal employee his job; judge places him on probation

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (WZZM) - A veteran Lansing postal worker who admitted to stealing a $25 movie theater gift card dodged federal prison, but was ordered to pay $150 in fines, fees and restitution.

The May theft from a greeting card also cost the 28-year postal employee his job.

Alvin Jerome Sharpe pleaded guilty this week to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully opening mail. A federal magistrate judge in Grand Rapids placed Sharpe on probation for one year and hit him with a $100 fine, along with a $25 special assessment fee.

And he has to pay the victim of his May, 2016 mail theft $25 for the gift card, which he used two times at a movie theater in Lansing.

“This is not an isolated incident,’’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. O’Connor wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Over a period of about six months, (Sharpe) unlawfully opened 11 pieces of U.S. Mail and stole five stored value cards from postal customers.’’

The thefts occurred while Sharpe worked as a mail handler and an acting supervisor at the U.S. Postal Service processing and distribution facility in Lansing, O’Connor wrote.

Sharpe “is held to a high standard of conduct and his abuse of his position of trust and repeated criminal activity cannot be overlooked,’’ O’Connor wrote in the sentencing memorandum.

When questioned about the thefts, Sharpe “was not entirely truthful . . .and claimed that he had purchased gift cards from ‘shady people,’’’ O’Connor wrote.

He eventually admitted to the thefts, apologized and acknowledged his wrongdoing, O’Connor wrote.

The married father of four began to experience financial woes when his wife was laid off from work in early 2016, defense attorney Christopher C. Renna wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“Even simple activities like going to the movies were now too expensive,’’ Renna wrote. “Mr. Sharpe could no longer afford to give his children money to go out with their friends so they could continue to live the life that they grew accustomed to.

“It was during this time that he made the tragic and life-changing decision to open some pieces of mail that did not belong to him.’’


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