Crime one of largest internal thefts in post office history, reportedly fueled gambling habit
A Des Allemands man who was a former manager of the North Kenner Post Office has pleaded guilty to misappropriation of postal funds, months after his arrest for one of the largest internal thefts by an employee in the history of the U.S. Postal Service.
Ryan Cortez, 46, was arrested in October and accused of stealing $630,000 worth of postage stamps and then selling them online. Cortez worked as a manager and customer service supervisor at the branch.
He will be sentenced May 30 in New Orleans federal court. Cortez could serve up to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and be fined up to $250,000.
According to U.S. Attorney Peter Strasser’s office, Cortez was arrested by special agents after authorities were notified by PayPal and eBay regarding significant quantities of U.S. postal stamps sold by Cortez on eBay.
The Attorney’s Office said an investigation revealed that as manager, Cortez increased the Kenner North Post Office’s reserve stamp stock by more than $600,000. Subpoenaed records from Cortez’s bank account revealed substantial deposits, including more than $58,000 in a one-month period in the summer of 2018.
Agents executed a federal search warrant of Cortez’s home on Oct. 10. It was at that time, according to Strasser’s office, that Cortez admitted to stealing the stamps and then selling them on eBay, estimating he had stolen “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in stamp stock.
Cortez apparently confessed that a gambling addiction drove him to commit the act. He said he manipulated stamp stock counts by using another supervisor’s password to access the computer system. As a result, existing internal controls failed to detect the theft of these stamps.
During the investigation, postal agents determined Cortez withdrew thousands of dollars on a regular basis at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans and that he lost over $667,000 since 2011 and over $220,000 in 2017. According to postal records, his annual salary earned was $70,818.
Postage Stamp Theft
- The theft of $630,000 in postage stamps is one of the largest internal thefts by an employee in the history of the U.S. Postal Service.
- Ryan Cortez was accused of stealing the postage stamps and then selling them online.
- Cortez apparently confessed that a gambling addiction drove him to commit the act.