The mail theft caper began March 9 with the robbery of a Carmichael postal carrier by a juvenile brandishing a BB gun that looked like a real pistol, then absconding with a master mailbox key, authorities say.
“Dude, I have a magical key,” one of the suspects allegedly texted to another. “It’s a key for all mailboxes.”
By the time it ended days later, the suspects had stolen reams of mail from mailboxes, forged checks, stolen identities and bank cards, and then disposed of the evidence by burning the mail or burying it by mixing it with mud and human excrement, postal officials say.
Now, four suspects in the case are in custody in Sacramento County jails on various federal charges ranging from conspiracy to destruction of mail to assault of a mail carrier, court documents say.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Sacramento identifies the four suspects as Damian Anthony “Pony Boy” Deleal, 29; Jacey Alexandra Powell, 19; Brandon Lee Moses, 29; and Loren Shawn Patrick, 28.
According to the complaint, Deleal and Powell provided the replica pistol to a juvenile who walked up to a mail vehicle in Carmichael and approached a postal carrier standing at the rear of it and brandished the weapon.
“The robber ... targeted the postal carrier’s keys and only robbed the carrier of said keys,” the complaint says.
One of the keys was an arrow master key that opened postal boxes on Palmerson Drive, Diablo Drive, Dieppe Way, Shade Tree Way, Keoncrest Circle, Porto Pino Way, Golden Vista Way, Burnbray Place and Copper Cove Place, the complaint says.
For the next five days, the suspects gathered up mail from boxes on area streets, forged checks, went online to research the backgrounds of mail theft victims and tried to make purchases or bank withdrawals, the complaint says, the latest in a series of mail theft schemes reported in the region.
At one Sacramento Walmart, two of them tried to make purchases for $202 and later for $212.24 using a stolen bank card, the complaint says. At a Wells Fargo, one tried to withdraw cash several times using the card and to buy gas at two gas stations, the complaint says.
Authorities used surveillance videos from those attempts, as well as video of the mail carrier being robbed, as they launched their investigation. They also were assisted by the fact that one of the suspects tried to collect a reward from the Postal Service for the key by texting photos of it to inspectors, the complaint says.
As authorities closed in on a Manzanita Avenue address in Carmichael, one of the suspects allegedly began trying to get rid of the evidence by going into a backyard and seeing that the mail was “burned and destroyed by being buried in mud and human excrement,” the complaint says.