A contract rural mail carrier who pleaded guilty in September to one count of theft of mail was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to a year of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service and was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. to pay a $100 special assessment.
Mark Anthony Ford, 50, of Conway came under suspicion in early 2017 after agents with the U.S. Postal Service began investigating complaints of mailed prescriptions disappearing and of empty or opened pill bottles being found at post offices in Mount Vernon and Rosebud.
According to court documents, on April 5, 2017, investigators placed a decoy package on the top of a mail bin that was to be driven from the post office in Rosebud to the post office in Romance, eight miles away. Ford, a Highway Contract Route driver with the U.S. Postal Service, picked up the mail bin and, according to the documents, removed the decoy package and opened it while he was en route from Rosebud to Romance. He then removed the cap of the decoy pill bottle, which triggered an alert to agents waiting in Romance for Ford to arrive, the documents said.
Upon his arrival at the Romance post office, Ford told agents that the package had “busted open,” court documents said, and the package with the decoy pill bottle was then located behind the seats inside a pocket against the back wall of the single-cab truck he was driving.