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October 26, 2020 - 1:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, USPS.

Recently we noticed a couple of newly installed U.S. Mail Service boxes on the Southside, one at 20 Maple St., and another one around the corner on the west side of Evans Street in the city. We asked about their purpose.

"These are called 'relay boxes,' " said spokesman Desai O. Abdul-Razzaaq, at the WNY USPS office in Buffalo. "They are for mail carriers with walk-out routes. There is no slot to put mail in; they aren't mailboxes for the public to use. They're accessible for postal workers only."

They are used to briefly store mail safely that has accumulated along a walking route until it can be retrieved by a postal truck driver and delivered to the post office.

September 24, 2020 - 4:10pm
posted by Press Release in crime, news, notify, corfu, mail fraud, USPS.

Press release:

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced today that Julie Keller, 55, of Corfu, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with mail fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Cantil, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, between 2014 and August 2020, the defendant engaged as a money mule for various internet-based scams, accepting and redirecting thousands of dollars to Africa.

During that time, she had accounts closed by at least five different national and local banks due to suspicious cash, check, money order, and wire activity.

This July 17, the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) received a request for assistance from the Boston, Mass., Police Department. A detective was investigating a report of an individual (C.R.P.), who believed she had been defrauded in relation to a rental property listed on the online classified site, Craigslist.

In June, 2020, C.R.P. replied to an advertisement for an available apartment for rent and, ultimately agreed to rent a property listed on their local Craigslist site. All communication between the supposed landlord and C.R.P. was completed via text message. The supposed landlord instructed C.R.P. to split the deposit for the rental between an electronic payment via an electronic cellular telephone application, or “cash app,” and by money order, using the U.S. Mail.

The supposed landlord instructed C.R.P. to send the money order to Julie Keller in Corfu, who was identified as an accountant. The investigation determined that the address provided by the supposed landlord is a United States Postal Service (USPS) Facility in Corfu and Keller is employed by the USPS as a mail carrier.

After C.R.P. made the down payments as instructed, the person listing the property ceased all contact, and the property was never secured or occupied by C.R.P.

C.R.P. provided a number of screenshots from her cellular telephone, depicting her text communications with the individual who had listed the rental property. Subsequent investigation determined that other individuals sent the defendant down payments for the rental property listed on Craigslist.

A cursory look into Keller's banking history revealed that she had a pattern of suspicious cash, check, money order and wire activity totaling in excess of $150,000 dating back to 2014. Records indicated Keller had been either deceptive or unresponsive when questioned by bank personnel about the nature of her transactions. Her activities included the use of national and local banks, as well as Western Union and MoneyGram.

Keller made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. and was released on conditions.

The criminal complaint is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston, Mass., Division.

August 24, 2020 - 12:55pm
posted by Press Release in Sen. Charles Schumer, news, USPS, 2020 election.

Press release:

Acknowledging that the USPS remains in a precarious crisis, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced, yesterday, he is pushing the chairman of the USPS Board of Governors new Election Mail Committee to hand him a report in two weeks that outlines howNovember election mail will be delivered on time—without question.

Schumer revealed the independent subcommittee of the postal board is headed by a democrat, Governor Lee Moak, whom he appointed and that this will help address the ongoing lack of credibility with Postmaster DeJoy.

“In the past several days, Postmaster DeJoy has had to walk back some of his efforts to undermine and dismantle the post office ahead of the November election, but today we are here to say: actions speak louder than words and that those actions will come from sharp oversight,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

“There will be no rubber stamp on the postmaster’s talking points, because, quite frankly, he has lost credibility in Congress and with the American people. That is why I am demanding a report be handed to Congress in two weeks that outlines just how election mail will be delivered on time. We have to protect the election, the mail itself, and hold this postmaster accountable, which is what I told the Chairman of the new Election Mail Committee must be accomplished.”

According to the USPS Board of Governors, the establishment of a bipartisan Election Mail Committee will actively oversee the United States Postal Service's support of the mail-in voting process. The committee will be chaired by Governor Lee Moak, whom Schumer appointed. Moak will be joined on the committee by Governor Ron Bloom and Governor John Barger.

Schumer said this just-created postal unit will have the ability to investigate changes, and that this is very important, because it acts as a check on DeJoy. Schumer also announced he has spoken with Governor Moak on his request for a report and that with the USPS still enveloped in crisis, independent oversight will be key to repairing the damage that has been done. Schumer says Governor Moak will heed his request for the report and deliver it in two weeks.

“I spoke with Governor Moak yesterday on my request for a report—we’ll get one,” Schumer added. “Congress will use that report to ensure that the postal service has every resource it needs to protect and deliver election mail and hold DeJoy and the board accountable. The bottom line here is that with the Postal Service still enveloped in crisis and oversight will be key to repairing the damage DeJoy has already done.” 

This week, the Postal Service announced an immediate suspension of disastrous new initiatives implemented by Postmaster General DeJoy after weeks of public outcry due to significant delays in mail delivery that threatened to undermine the November election.

The Postal Service recently warned 46 states and the District of Columbia that general election ballots sent by mail may not arrive in time to be counted. The Postal Service Board of Governors on Friday, announced the creation of a new bipartisan Election Mail Committee to oversee the USPS’ support of mail-in voting.

DeJoy testified Friday in the Senate, according to that testimony, he said that his “No. 1 priority” is to ensure election mail arrives on time. Schumer says his statements largely ring hollow and require constant monitoring up until the election. In his testimony, DeJoy also told lawmakers that he would not restore the cuts to mailboxes and sorting equipment that have already been made, concerns Schumer has raised across the State of New York where mail was being slowed, delayed or not delivered at all in some cases.

Moreover, DeJoy could not provide lawmakers with a plan for handling the cascade of ballots heading for the USPS, which concerns Schumer and is part of why continuous oversight is required. DeJoy is slated to return Monday to testify before the House Oversight Committee.

July 19, 2020 - 3:59pm

Press release:

A day before he heads back to Washington, D.C., to lead negotiations on the next coronavirus recovery bill, COVID-4, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed that U.S. Post offices, including those across Upstate New York, could be forced to shut their doors unless they get an immediate infusion of funds and the personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies needed to keep workers and the mail-receiving public safe.

Schumer, citing the worry, made a vow, today, to fight for a critically needed $25 billion for the USPS so they can keep the doors open and the mail moving for all Americans.  

“All across Upstate New York, from Western and Central New York, to the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Capital District, Hudson Valley, or beyond, the USPS performs a lifeline service for countless Americans and the people of New York that must continue amid and beyond this pandemic,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

“The fact is, the coronavirus has severely crippled USPS operations and their funds. Despite that, they have kept the doors open, the mail -- and really the economy -- moving, and now they need the help to sustain their pace. The fight to keep our post offices open by injecting the dollars needed to do the job and purchase the personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies required to keep everyone safe will begin tomorrow, and I am here to say: I vow to lead it."

Schumer explained the fight to keep post offices across the country open will begin this upcoming week. He said the services provided by USPS amount to lifelines for millions of Americans that cannot be replaced or easily replicated, especially in certain parts of the country.

Schumer detailed how the coronavirus pandemic has crippled our post offices and their operations as he stressed their relevance and importance to our larger economic recovery.

According to the Associated Press, mail volume is down by more than 30 percent from last year because of the coronavirus, and the Postal Service says losses will increase by more than $22 billion over the next 18 months.

Schumer added that the monumental costs of personal protective equipment (PPE) are also driving huge costs for the USPS. Those supplies are needed to keep workers and the mail-receiving public safe. Schumer said the USPS will need dollars to purchase the PPE it needs, in addition to funding to offset the aforementioned operational shortfalls delivered by the coronavirus.

“We are unable to predict the duration of COVID-19 business closures and the duration of the recession we are currently experiencing: however, this situation will materially damage our financial condition,” said USPS Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett.

“While we continue to conserve capital and reduce expenses in areas where volumes are declining, our ability to continue to serve the nation will require substantial finding from the federal government or other sources.”

“The bottom line here," added Schumer, "is that without the U.S. Postal Service in operation, we might as well stamp ‘Return to Sender’ on any economic recovery plan that is presented.”   

The U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation: 160 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations, according to the Service.

June 11, 2020 - 2:43pm

From the USPS -- Buffalo:

The number of U.S. Postal Service employees attacked by dogs nationwide fell to 5,803 in 2019 — more than 200 fewer than in 2018 and more than 400 fewer since 2017. For Postal Service officials and mail carriers, one bite is one too many.

The Postal Service has new technology tools to help reduce dog attacks and is championing a local program as well.   

In the Western NY District (ZIP Codes 140 through 149), there were 55 dog attacks in 2019; one more than the year before. (See full chart below of where dog attacks occurred.)

The theme for the 2020 U.S. Postal Service National Dog Bite Awareness Week, June 14-20, is “Be Alert: Prevent the Bite.” The campaign addresses aggressive dog behaviors that pose serious threats to the more than 80,000 Postal Service employees delivering mail and how communities they serve can play an integral part in their safety.

“During this difficult time, our letter carriers are delivering mail and they need to do it safely,” said Western NY District Manager Gary Vaccarella. “We are using technology and a dog awareness program to assist our customers and carriers in reducing bites.”

According to Vaccarella, technology supports carrier safety in two ways: Mobile Delivery Devices, handheld scanners used by carriers to confirm customer delivery, now include a feature to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address; and Informed Delivery, which alerts customers to mail and packages coming to their homes, allows customers to plan for the carrier’s arrival by securing dogs safely.

In addition, Post Offices around Western NY have started using a Dog Paw program where stickers are placed on mailboxes to alert carriers that a dog is nearby. Some Post Offices piloted the program last year; a district-wide rollout is occurring for many others.

Karen Mazurkiewicz, spokeswoman for USPS in Western New York, told The Batavian this afternoon that since she's been in her job, going back to 2016, records show no postal employees in Genesee County were bitten by a dog. That's why no community in this county is on the list below.

"They've must have done a good job getting the word out," Mazurkiewicz said. "And we train our workers to use best practices to help keep them safe."

For example, if a mail carrier approaches a residence with a barking dog, and the resident opens the main door to receive mail, the carrier is encourage to place a foot against the bottom corner where the screen door opens, in case it's unlatched and the dog comes bounding out. Once the dog is safely under control, they can hand off the mail.

Mail carriers alert others who may be substituting for them on their route about aggressive dogs by filling out bright orange "dog warning" cards that are kept on file in the delivery truck.

The Postal Service offers the following safety tips for dog owners:

  • When a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate glass windows to attack visitors.
  • Parents should remind children and other family members not to take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet. The dog may view the carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
  • If a carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a Post Office location or other facility until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area’s Post Office location.

Here are the Post Offices in Western NY that had a dog bite in 2019 (Post Offices listed alphabetically):

ALBION

  1

BOSTON

  1

BUFFALO

  15

CORNING

  1

DUNKIRK

  1

ELMIRA

  4

ENDICOTT

  1

FAIRPORT

  1

FREDONIA

  1

GRAND ISLAND

  2

HORNELL

  1

ITHACA

  1

JAMESTOWN

  2

LAKEVIEW

  1

LOCKPORT

  1

NIAGARA FALLS

  2

ORCHARD PARK

  3

PENFIELD

  1

PENN YAN

  1

ROCHESTER

  14

No Western NY District Post Offices were in the national top 20 offices for dog bite attacks, as noted today in a national press release.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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