KEY POINTS

  • Howard Kerns was sentenced to two months in jail and two years of supervised release
  • The former postal service supervisor stole marijuana from a confiscated package in August 2020
  • Kerns admitted the act following an investigation by the USPS Office of Inspector General

A supervisor for the United States Postal Service (USPS) lost his job and received a prison sentence after he admitted to stealing marijuana from a confiscated package late last year, state prosecutors said Tuesday.

Howard Kerns, of Dearing, was sentenced to two months in prison followed by two years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to felony theft of mail matter by a postal employee, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia David H. Estes said in a statement.

The 53-year-old, who previously worked in the USPS post office in Evans, Georgia, was also terminated from the agency, Estes said.

Kerns was working in the post office in Brunswick in August last year when a package suspected of containing marijuana arrived, according to court documents and testimony.

Postal workers put the package on a shelf in the postmaster's office to await examination by a USPS inspector, but management later discovered the package had been opened and resealed with the contents removed.

The missing drugs were reported to the USPS Office of Inspector General for further investigation and Kerns later admitted to stealing the package's contents upon questioning.

"Integrity of our U.S. Mail is dependent on the honesty of postal employees. Howard Kerns is the rare exception of workers who fail that test, and is being held accountable for that failure," Estes was quoted as saying in the statement.

"The vast majority of Postal Service employees are honest, hardworking individuals who would never violate the public trust," Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Ulrich for the USPS' Southern Area Field Office said.

The case against Kerns was investigated by the USPS Office of Inspector General and prosecuted for the U.S. by U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Bearden.

A similar incident happened in September when a former USPS worker in Massachusetts was sentenced to jail for stealing COVID-19 stimulus checks as well as making fraudulent purchases and ATM withdrawals with stolen debit cards.

Angela Gomez, 40, was sentenced to three months in prison and three years of supervised release on Sept. 3. The Lynn resident had pleaded guilty to one count of theft of mail by an employee on May 11 after she stole a total of $21,387 in the form of stimulus checks, fraudulent debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals.

Gomez agreed to pay back the sum in restitution to victims as part of her plea agreement.

marijuana-2174302_1920 Representation. An investigation by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General revealed Howard Kerns, 53, stole marijuana from a confiscated USPS package. Photo: Pixabay