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Mail carrier charged with stealing nearly $700,000 by altering checks in Lancaster County

The man is accused of stealing nearly $700,000 over a four-month span while serving as a mail carrier in the Leola area.
Credit: FOX43

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — A Lancaster County postal worker has been charged with more than 400 offenses, including over 100 felonies, after investigators say she used her position to steal almost $700,000 by taking and altering more than 100 checks from envelopes she encountered on her route.

Jennesy Rodriguez, 26, of Lancaster, served as a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier in Upper Leacock Township when she committed the alleged thefts between Nov. 24 and March 29, according to a criminal complaint filed by East Lampeter Township Police.

Rodriguez is accused of taking 111 checks inside envelopes with Leola-area ZIP codes, altering their amounts, forging signatures, and depositing $699,820 into her personal accounts, according to the criminal complaint.

She is charged with:

  • 112 counts of theft by unlawful taking
  • 111 counts of receiving stolen property
  • 111 counts of misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions
  • 50 counts of forgery
  • 50 counts of identity theft
  • criminal use of a communication facility
  • bad checks

More than 100 of the offenses are considered felonies, according to police.

Police and U.S. Postal Service investigators began looking into Rodriguez's alleged activities in February, police said in the criminal complaint.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Postal Service confirmed that Rodriguez "has not been interacting with the mail" since the time of her arrest.

The spokesperson issued the following statement:

"The conduct alleged here is in no way representative of the 650,000 postal employees nationwide who take great pride in delivering for America and safeguarding our nations mail.

"The Postal Inspection Service, Postal Police and the Office of the Inspector General work in concert to protect the sanctity of the mail and investigate any mail related crimes. This arrest is an example of how effective their oversight is.

"Theft of mail from residential mail boxes does occur and customers are urged to mail items directly at their local post office or from a secure blue collection box."

The investigation began after a postmaster at the Leola Post Office contacted police in January and reported that they'd received several complaints involving stolen checks, police say. The postmaster concluded that Rodriguez, who worked the routes where the alleged thefts occurred at the time the checks had been reported stolen, was the only possible suspect.

Before Rodriguez transferred to Leola from a post office in East Petersburg in October, police received only one report of a stolen and altered check in the Leola area over a two-year period between November 2019 and November 2021. 

After Rodriguez transferred there, police received 50 reports of stolen checks between November 2021 and March, the complaint says.

As part of the investigation, a hidden camera was placed inside Rodriguez's vehicle to observe her as she performed her mail carrier duties.

The footage showed at least 61 instances where Rodriguez concealed pieces of mail in her carrier bag and personal backpack, police claim. In some cases, she allegedly manipulated envelopes with her hands or opened small sections to view their contents, according to police.

She also allegedly used windows and the light on her cell phone in an attempt to see through the envelopes and determine their contents, police claim.

Investigators also claim they saw Rodriguez taking envelopes from numerous businesses in Leola and Upper Leacock Township. 

After taking the checks, investigators say, Rodriguez altered the amounts listed on them, making them larger than intended, and then deposited the funds for her own use.

In January, police say, one man in Leola had an $18 check cashed for $8,500 by Rodriguez, who used a false name. Another woman discovered in December that her bank account was overdrawn after a $40 check she had placed in her mailbox was altered to $6,500 and cashed with a fake name, according to the complaint.

Police say there are at least another 14 similar instances involving checks from the Leola area being altered and cashed. Three other instances were also discovered in West Earl Township, according to police. 

Each time, the checks had been placed in mail boxes along Rodriguez's route, police say. She allegedly took the envelopes, altered the amounts and names listed on the checks, and either cashed them or deposited them under false names by using mobile phone apps or at ATMs.

Rodriguez is accused of at least 50 known forgeries, police say. In each instance, she used the same name to make multiple deposits only once.

Police have also accused Rodriguez of taking 24 checks intended for Leola businesses, altering them for more than their initial worth, and cashing or depositing them under false names. 

New Holland Police, State Police, and law enforcement authorities in Indiana have investigated at least six other similar cases involving Rodriguez, according to the complaint.

Most of Rodriguez's alleged victims are located in Lancaster County, but other victims have been found in Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Kentucky, and Nevada, according to police.

On one occasion in January, a New York man reported that he'd sent a check for $80 to a Leola business. The check was taken, altered to $9,600, and deposited by someone using a fake name, police say. 

The business that was supposed to receive the check told police their mail was brought directly inside by their mail carrier, and that it would be “extremely difficult” for someone to have stolen the check from inside the store, according to the affidavit.

The business is located on one of the routes served by Rodriguez, police said.

Police in the borough of East Petersburg, where Rodriguez served before transferring to Leola, reported that at least six checks had been stolen from mailboxes in March 2021, while Rodriguez was working there. The checks were also altered to amounts significantly higher than their initial worth and deposited under a false name, the complaint states.

Rodriguez was arraigned on the charges Monday, according to court records. Judge Robert Herman set her bail at $50,000. Rodriguez was released from Lancaster County Prison later on Monday after posting bail.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for April 11, according to court records.

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