Bruce Parton had a “smile for everyone.”
“An eternal optimist, he would always say, ‘Keep a positive attitude,’ ” his daughter, Nina Parton, said Friday in Miami federal court, where Parton’s killer was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Parton loved his job as a U.S. postal carrier, gardening, playing basketball, working on his freshwater aquarium, going to the beach and making breakfast on Sundays for his family, she said.
A longtime Pembroke Pines resident who worked out of the Norland Post Office, Parton was such a popular mailman that more than 600 people attended his funeral service. He had been close to retirement after a 30-year career.
On Friday, Pikerson J. Mentor, 31, the North Miami man who fatally shot the 60-year-old while he was delivering the mail in December 2010, was sentenced to life plus 42 years.
U.S. District Judge Donald Graham called Mentor’s crime “evil.”
A jury convicted Mentor in September of killing Parton as part of a plot to steal people’s identities and file fraudulent income-tax refunds in their names. Mentor’s motive: to steal Parton’s master key so that Mentor and a partner could access mailboxes — and the personal financial information inside the mail — belonging to residents of North Miami-Dade apartment complexes.
The judge, saying Mentor took “greed to unchartered levels,” ordered him to pay back $201,535 to the U.S. government.
“This was the callous murder of another human being for profit,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Lacosta said.
Defense attorney Roy Kahn, calling Parton’s death “extremely unfortunate,” told Mentor to say nothing during the sentencing because he’s appealing his conviction. Kahn maintained his client did not intend to shoot the letter carrier on Dec. 6, 2010.
Mentor, who had just been released from prison, was assisted in the crime by Saubnet Dwayne Politesse, 25, also of North Miami, the getaway driver who pleaded guilty in August and cooperated with the prosecution. He testified against Mentor at trial and was sentenced Friday to 21 years in prison — despite initial reservations by the judge that the government’s recommended sentence of 20 years was “lenient.”
Graham said he changed his mind after Politesse’s attorney, Albert Levin, read aloud the defendant’s letter to the Parton family, and his brother, Serge Polites, spoke of Politesse’s childhood of violence, drugs and the murder of a third brother.
“To be honest, I wish that I could replace my life with Mr. Parton,” Levin read, while facing the slain postal worker’s relatives, including Parton’s widow, Patricia. “I ask God for forgiveness and to help me with this burden that I have placed on your lives, my family, Mr. Parton and myself.”
Levin, reading the letter, also stressed that Politesse helped the prosecution make its murder case by going “around the unwritten street code” against snitching.
Lacosta, the prosecutor, focused on Politesse’s assistance as he strived to explain to the judge why he recommended a 20-year sentence.
“He got up on the witness stand, he took his lumps and he was called a snitch,” Lacosta told Graham. “We have to make deals to break through the no-snitch mentality.”
At trial, Mentor was found guilty of 14 counts of homicide, carjacking, robbery, possession of a firearm and aggravated identity theft.
Mentor and Politesse were an extreme example of a troubling trend of street criminals turning to identity theft to file and claim fraudulent tax refunds with the Internal Revenue Service, authorities said.
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, according to the investigation by U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS and Miami-Dade police.
“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.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said the men’s prison sentences “should send a clear message to our community: there are lifelong consequences to senseless acts of violence.”
Ferrer said he hoped the sentencings would “bring some comfort and sense of justice to Mr. Parton’s family.”