(The Center Square) – Federal authorities charged a pair of post office employees with discarding mail, including political mailers and applications for mail-in ballots, furthering concerns about the integrity of ballots mailed this election season.
Authorities charged Sean Troesch, 48, of Pittsburgh, a city carrier who worked out of the Mount Oliver, Pennsylvania, post office, and James McLenigan, 29, of Pittsburgh, who worked out of the Pittsburgh Post Office Bloomfield Station, with delay or destruction of mail. If convicted, both men face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
“During this election season, the integrity of the mail is more important than ever,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said in a statement. “When any public employee, including a mail carrier, violates the law, we will respond quickly.
“These carriers each attempted to destroy mail, including both political advertisements and an application for a mail-in ballot,” Brady added. “Anyone who would obstruct or delay United States mail that includes election-related materials should know that the Department of Justice will take quick, efficient action against them.”
According to authorities, on Oct. 8, a Persad Center employee reported to a United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General agent they recovered mail from a trash bin outside their office and had surveillance video of a mail carrier disposing of the items.
The local postmaster suspected McLenigan was the employee in the video, and McLenigan later admitted to throwing away mail, authorities said. The discarded mail included 75 First Class Mail items and 25 political advertisements or campaign mailers, and a request for a mail-in ballot was among the items.
Meanwhile, on Oct. 11, an agent received a report Troesch placed nine trash bags on the street in front of his house. Investigators previously received a tip alleging a mail carrier living on Meadowcrest Road in Baldwin, the same street as Troesch, took mail from his vehicle and put it in trash bags.
When questioned on Oct. 11 about the trash bags, Troesch told investigators one bag contained mail, but he ultimately admitted all nine bags had mail, and investigators also recovered four mail items from Troesch’s personal vehicle, according to a news release.
Authorities recovered 314 pieces of First Class Mail, seven Certified Mail items, one Priority Mail piece and 1,311 political advertisements or campaign mailers. They also recovered an application requesting a mail-in ballot.
Last month, federal authorities said they were investigating “reports of potential issues with a small number of mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections.” Investigators said they recovered nine discarded military ballots; two were resealed, while seven were cast for President Donald Trump.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar later told reporters the decision to toss the ballots was not “intentional fraud,” but a mistake, The Associated Press reported.