Former Palmdale mail carrier pleads guilty to EDD fraud

A former U.S. Postal Service mail carrier from Palmdale pleaded guilty Monday to federal criminal charges for scheming to steal more than $250,000 in unemployment insurance funds by making false claims of COVID-related job losses and for stealing debit cards intended for other people on his mail route.

Stephen Glover, 32, entered his plea in downtown Los Angeles to one count each of mail fraud and theft of mail by an officer or employee, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson scheduled a Sept. 19 sentencing hearing, at which time Glover will face up to 20 years in federal prison on the mail fraud count and five years on the mail theft count.

From August 2020 to June 2021, while employed at the post office branch in Valencia, Glover schemed to defraud the California Employment Development Department out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits. Glover's co-schemers applied for unemployment benefits from EDD using false statements and sometimes using stolen identities. Based upon the bogus claims, EDD mailed out debit cards to addresses listed on the applications.

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The fraudulent claims were federally funded through programs authorized by Congress in response to the pandemic, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Lost Wage Assistance programs.

Glover admitted to abusing his position as a USPS mail carrier by providing associates with addresses on his mail route, which were then used as mailing addresses on the fraudulent EDD applications. After EDD mailed debit cards to those addresses, Glover intercepted and stole that mail.

Glover further admitted to stealing legitimate EDD debit cards intended for recipients on his mail route. Glover used the EDD debit cards in other people's names to withdraw thousands of dollars in cash from ATMs. He also activated the debit cards in other people's names by calling EDD and using PINs he had discovered from stolen EDD mail.

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During a search of his girlfriend's residence in June 2021, law enforcement found 37 pieces of mail from EDD address to 15 different individuals, federal prosecutors said.

The total intended loss related to Glover's scheme is $270,698.

Glover also admitted to stealing more than 10 personal and business checks payable to others and unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic, which totaled about $23,266. In relation to these checks, Glover admitted to stealing 40 pieces of mail.

In a related case, Travis McKenzie, 26, of Valencia, who lived on Glover's mail route, is set to plead guilty on Wednesday to mail fraud, mail theft, and identity theft.

McKenzie admitted in his plea agreement that law enforcement found more than 150 pieces of mail from EDD addressed to more than 50 different names, as well as mail from the Virginia Employment Commission, at his residence.

McKenzie further admitted to using cash withdrawn from ATMs using EDD debit cards to purchase items from luxury retailers including Louis Vuitton and Prada handbags from luxury retailers Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The intended loss applicable to McKenzie's participation in the mail fraud scheme is $577,522. McKenzie further admitted to possessing 317 pieces of stolen mail.

Upon entering his guilty plea, McKenzie will face up to 40 years in federal prison, prosecutors noted.