Veteran mailman Jeffrey L. Shipley turned his apartment into a repository of pilfered postage, authorities say, as he took letters, magazines, Netflix videos and even a Mother's Day card from the homes on his route.
Shipley, who worked at a Postal Service facility in Catonsville, "failed to deliver, embezzled and stole over 20,000 pieces of mail," according to federal charges filed against him last week.
He faces one count each of mail theft and delaying the mail. Neither Shipley nor his attorney could be reached for comment. His father, Foster Shipley, said he was not close to his son but could not imagine him stealing anything.
"He wasn't that type of person," Foster Shipley said.
Shipley had been a mailman since August 1993. He most recently worked Tuesday to Saturday, according to court documents, delivering mail to homes on Winters Lane, Old Frederick Road, Lincoln Park, Roberts Avenue, Shipley Avenue and Johnson Street.
Shipley also wrote horror stories, which he promoted on his website. That's where he indicated his life didn't turn out as expected.
"Growing up, I was certain that I'd be an artist," the site says. "I was good, but I didn't apply my talent. Eventually I found myself with two children whom I adored, and a job I despised."
The site and Facebook pages under his name offered few hints at his day job, except a "contact us" page on one site that shows a vintage picture of a mailman, his satchel piled high with parcels.
Letter carriers at the top of the union pay scale earn a base salary of $58,000.
The postal investigation began in February with a tip over an Internet hotline that Shipley was stealing bagfuls of mail as well as taking jewelry, DVDs and passports from the mail, the agent wrote in a search warrant application.
Soon another "confidential informant" joined the mix.
"CI 14-002 advised that he/she had personally been inside Shipley's residence," wrote Special Agent Steven M. Mason of the Postal Service Inspector General's office, using code to mask the second informant's name, "and had seen large quantities of opened and unopened U.S. Mail not addressed to Shipley."
The informant turned over pictures of Shipley's mail-stuffed Millersville home, as well as 23 pieces of mail allegedly taken from the apartment.
"None of them were addressed to Shipley," Special Agent Mason wrote in the application.
He went to stake out Shipley's apartment the next day and saw Shipley carry a mail satchel into the building.
Mason also interviewed one of Shipley's alleged victims, an unidentified woman from White Plains who sent her daughter two checks that disappeared in the post.
Authorities don't say in court documents when the thefts began, but the log of what was seized in the search is nine pages long, with line after line simply logging more "bulk loose misc. mail."
In addition, authorities say they found a Food Lion bag, trash bags, boxes and official Postal Service tubs full of mail, gift cards and magazines, a $100 bag of Kennedy half-dollar coins from the U.S. Mint and three stools marked "Property of USPS."
Baltimore Sun reporter Brandi Bottalico contributed to this article.
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