In December 2010, Bruce Parton was murdered in broad daylight while doing a job he had enjoyed for 30 years: delivering the mail.
On Thursday, a federal jury found a Miami-Dade man guilty of fatally shooting Parton as part of a plot to steal people’s identities and file fraudulent income-tax refunds in their names.
The jury found that Pikerson J. Mentor, 30, killed Parton, 60, of Pembroke Pines, for his master key so that he and a partner could access mailboxes — and the personal financial information inside the mail — belonging to residents of North Miami-Dade apartment complexes.
Mentor, who had just been released from prison, was assisted in the crime by Saubnet Dwayne Politesse, 24, the getaway driver who pleaded guilty in August. He testified against Mentor at trial. Both men, held in federal custody since their arrests last year, were from North Miami.
Mentor faces up to life in prison at his sentencing Nov. 27 for the slaying of Parton, who worked out of the Norland Post Office and was close to retirement. According to colleagues and family, he was such a popular mailman on his route that many neighborhood residents attended his funeral service.
“I’m glad justice is being served,” his wife, Patricia Parton, told The Miami Herald. “I don’t want anybody to go through what I went through with my family.”
After a seven-day trial, Mentor was found guilty of 14 counts of homicide, carjacking, robbery, possession of a firearm and aggravated identity theft. The 12-person jury started deliberations late Tuesday and reached unanimous verdicts by mid-day Thursday. The prosecution was led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Lacosta.
Mentor and Politesse were part of a troubling trend of street criminals turning to identity theft to file and claim fraudulent tax refunds, authorities say.
“The murder of Bruce Parton was a callous and unnecessary act, resulting in the death of a hard-working and dedicated public servant,” U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said. “I hope that today’s verdict brings some solace and a sense of justice to Mr. Parton’s family.’’
“Today’s verdict is a culmination of the aggressive efforts of the South Florida’s law enforcement community in bringing to justice anyone who harms our civil servants,” said Henry Gutierrez, regional head of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Our thoughts and prayers will always be with Bruce Parton and his family.”
The killing happened after Parton got out of his postal truck and walked into the Monte Carlo Condominiums on Northwest 165th Street to deliver mail. The mail carrier encountered Mentor, who pulled out a .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol and shot Parton twice, according to trial evidence. Mentor stole Parton’s keys and fled in his Gruman mail truck.
Mentor ditched the truck, and was picked up by Politesse and another unidentified man in a Cadillac.
“Mentor later explained that he had shot the victim in his truck because the victim was resisting,” Politesse said in a statement filed with his plea agreement. For his cooperation and testimony, Politesse faces at least 20 years in prison.
At trial, Mentor’s defense attorney, Roy Kahn, tried to discredit Politesse and another witness who claimed to have identified the defendant in Parton’s mail truck. Kahn said his client chose to go to trial because prosecutors would not offer him a plea deal like that given to Politesse.