HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – An Ashland, Kentucky man pled guilty to illegally stealing and rifling through mail parcels intended for veterans, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Michael Lawrence Collins, 48, was a truck driver for a company who contracted with the United States Postal Service to transport mail between Post Office facilities. Collins gained access to the mail by virtue of his employment as a contract truck driver.
“A despicable crime – stealing critical medications intended for those who served our Nation,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Collins was stealing pain medication for his own personal use that was intended for veterans in the Huntington area. Collins was supposed to deliver the mail, not steal the mail. I appreciate the work of the United States Postal Inspection Service to catch Collins so that veterans in the Huntington area will once again get their much needed medications.”
An investigation was initiated in 2018 by agents of the United States Postal Inspection Service after receiving complaints that prescription medication packages sent from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Huntington were not received or the packages had been ripped open. Postal inspectors then identified the truck route in which the suspicious activity was occurring and conducted surveillance. Collins was identified as the suspect. On December 18, 2018, Postal Inspectors placed test packages into the mail stream on Collins’ mail route. Postal inspectors approached Collins on the dock of the Huntington Post Office, and Collins was found to have one of the test packages in his jacket. Collins confessed that he had been stealing and tearing open the medication parcels.
At the September 3, 2019 plea hearing, Collins admitted that on approximately eighteen occasions, from August 2018 through December 2018, he opened and removed the contents of sealed U.S. mail parcels that were labeled as being sent from the VAMC to people in the Huntington area. Collins admitted that he was looking for pain pills, such as hydrocodone, for his personal use.
Collins faces up to five years in prison when sentenced on December 9, 2019. The United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation. United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the hearing.