February 22, 2017
A letter carrier from Forest City pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to stashing thousands of pieces of mail at his home over a period of 14 years, hiding the mail in his home, vehicle and in an outbuilding that eventually collapsed, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. By the time investigators caught on, he had failed to deliver two dumptruck loads worth of mail to postal customers on his route.
Gary Wayne Collins, 53, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell and pleaded guilty to charges of detaining and delaying U.S. mail in Cleveland and Rutherford counties, Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, announced.
According to filed court documents and the plea hearing, a witness observed Collins placing several tubs of mail behind a dumpster in Shelby in April 2014. The witness notified the local postmaster and the tubs of mail were recovered. The postmaster determined that the recovered tubs contained deliverable mail for addresses on Collins’ delivery route, who at the time was a U.S. Postal Service Rural Carrier. Court records indicate that when postal agents interviewed Collins two days later, Collins told the agents that he had never intended to dump any mail and that he had left the tubs near the dumpster only temporarily, intending to return later to pick them up. Collins also told the agents that he had never thrown away any mail or stored it at his residence. The mail recovered on April 15, 2014, included 1,513 pieces — 628 of them first-class mail — and three parcels.
In May 2014 postal agents discovered more than 1,800 pieces of undelivered mail hidden in Collins’ residence and his vehicle. The undelivered mail included 134 pieces of First-Class mail dating as far back as April 2000. Court records indicate that postal agents also found additional pieces of undelivered mail inside a partially-collapsed outbuilding located on Collins’ property. According to court records, the Postal Service used a backhoe to remove two full-sized dump truck loads of mail from the outbuilding. That mail could not be salvaged due to extensive weather damage and had to be destroyed. Collins admitted in court on Tuesday that for approximately 10 years he had been bringing home mail that he had not delivered.