A rural route carrier for the U.S. Postal Service has been accused of stealing medication from mail intended for veterans.

Leta May McDaniel, 38, of De Beque, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of two counts of unlawful possession of a schedule two controlled substance. She is free on a personal recognizance bond.

McDaniel resigned from her job Jan. 19 after having worked at the Parachute post office since January 2001, said Al DeSarro, a spokesman for the Postal Service.

David Montoya, special agent in charge for the area's USPS Office of Inspector General, said "a number" of citizens had complained they weren't receiving their medications. The suspect was believed to have stolen medicine from mail coming from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Grand Junction, authorities said.

One Parachute man told investigators he'd lost more than 500 morphine tablets prescribed for his pain from terminal cancer, investigators said.

On Dec. 5, investigators placed a parcel containing a bottle of fake drugs at McDaniel's work station, an arrest warrant affidavit said. Although the envelope was addressed somewhere outside McDaniel's delivery area, she brought it on her route and then opened it, the affidavit said.

The agents allege McDaniel told them she had taken medications from the mail for about a year to help with her severe depression.

McDaniel has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment Sunday.