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In historic heist, postal worker stole $600,000 of stamps — and went to casino, DA says

Ryan Cortez, a U.S. Postal Service worker in New Orleans, Louisiana, was arrested for allegedly selling $600,000 of stamps and stealing money from a church, after spending large amounts of cash at a casino.
Ryan Cortez, a U.S. Postal Service worker in New Orleans, Louisiana, was arrested for allegedly selling $600,000 of stamps and stealing money from a church, after spending large amounts of cash at a casino. ASSOCIATED PRESS

It’s being called one of the biggest internal heists in the history of the U.S. Postal Service.

Ryan Cortez, a worker at the North Kenner Post Office in Louisiana, is accused of selling about $600,000 worth of stamps online — as well as embezzling from a church — and spending large quantities of cash at a nearby casino, according to a press release from United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser.

Police arrested the 46-year-old man on Wednesday for misappropriation of postal funds or property, the press release says.

Cortez, who was the manager of customer service operations at the post office, increased the supply of stamps there by about $600,000, according to Strasser’s press release, while PayPal and eBay alerted authorities that Cortez was selling large amounts of stamps online.

Since 2011, Cortez had lost around $667,000 while at the Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans, the press release says, despite the fact that he only makes just more than $70,000 a year. He lost $227,000 in 2017 alone, according to Strasser.

Along with stealing and then selling $630,000 of stamps, Cortez is accused of embezzling cash from the Des Allemands Mennonite Church. Cortez was the treasurer at the church, according to The Times-Picayune.

During one month in summer 2018, he deposited more than $58,000 into a bank account, authorities say.

The press release from Strasser said Cortez’s stamp stealing scheme is one of the largest ever seen by the U.S. Postal Service.

“According to Postal authorities, CORTEZ’s illegal activities constitute one of the largest internal Postal theft by a Postal Service employee in the history of the U.S. Postal Service,” the statement reads.

Or, as NBC News put it, “he put his stamp on the U.S. Postal Service.”

In December, a U.S. postal worker was accused of stealing and cashing a check intended for a charity that provides wigs to children with cancer.

Shanae Bingham, a 23-year-old from Akron, Ohio, was charged with felony theft for allegedly taking the check and putting it in her own bank account, according to News5.

Reniece Tatum was waiting for that check, but it never came.

Tatum — who founded Dream a Wig, a nonprofit that aims to help children with cancer get a beautiful wig — told the Akron Beacon Journal the $414 check was supposed to come from Chipotle, where she held a fundraiser for her organization.

“It’s just the weirdest thing,” Tatum told the Beach Journal. “When I found out someone had cashed the check, I couldn’t figure out how they got into my locked mailbox.

“I never suspected it was the mail woman.”

Roughly 15 Middle Georgia postal employees rallied at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Mulberry Street Monday in opposition of the Trump administration's privatization plan.

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