ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A federal grand jury has indicted six former employees of an Alaska commuter airline on charges of stealing mail over two years, including 343 computers headed to schools in rural villages.
The six ramp agents were employed by Ravn Air. U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder said the six were charged with stealing Apple computers and other mail, conspiracy and possession of stolen mail.
The value of the items stolen from March 2015 to April 2017 was $489,000. Besides computers, the men are suspected of stealing cellphones, cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
The six include Congress Lepou, 29, Breadoflife "Presley" Faiupu, 36, Hubert Barte, 37, Paulo Maae, 24, Harold Velicaria, 35, and Rogelio "Roger" Daquis, 49.
One suspect was arrested Friday and five others were arrested Monday. All but Maae were in custody Monday afternoon at the Anchorage jail, according to online corrections listings. The indictment did not list their attorneys.
Ravn was authorized to pick up mail from the U.S. Postal Service Processing and Distribution Center in Anchorage and move it to Ravn facilities for placement on planes and delivery to villages, including the western Alaska communities of Saint Marys, Mountain Village, Stebbins, Unalakleet, Emmonak, Kotlik, Alakanuk, Aniak, Grayling, Kalskag and Koyuk.
Lepou was a lead ramp agent and Faiupu was a ramp agent trainer.
Prosecutors said Lepou and Faiupu used a Ravn truck to move items from the post office distribution center to the Ravn employee parking lot, where they were loaded into private vehicles.
The four others paid for stolen items or found buyers for stolen items, prosecutors said. The computers included both desktop and laptop models.
Some items were sold or given to family members or co-workers.
Lepou in April was found with two stolen computers, 667 cartons of cigarettes stolen from the mail and 305 cans of stolen chewing tobacco. He also had eight stolen prepay cellular phones worth $109,000, prosecutors said.
Ravn Air said in a statement late Monday that the company acted quickly.
"When this matter came to our attention, we immediately cooperated with U.S. Post Office officials, assisted in their investigation, took prompt corrective action, and terminated the employment of the people involved," the statement said.
The Postal Service Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Postal inspection Service conducted the investigation.