Amanda Jean Holland of Sunburst, a former U. S. Postal Service worker who admitted going through mail and stealing cash and gift cards from envelopes, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls last week.
Court documents state that Holland began working in January 2017 for the U.S. Postal Service as a part-time employee in the Sweet Grass and Sunburst post offices, where she assisted customers, processed money orders, and sorted mail for delivery.
In early 2019, the Postal Service received several reports from people indicating that cash and greeting cards sent through the Sweet Grass office did not reach their destinations. Some reported that the envelopes were delivered but that they had been torn open and resealed and were missing cash.
An agent initiated internal test mailings with envelopes containing Walmart gift cards. He later determined that two of the gift cards were redeemed on April 5, 2019, at a Walmart in Great Falls. The agent obtained the receipts for the transactions and noted the cards were used to purchase jewelry, clothes, and candy.
The agent also installed covert surveillance cameras in the Sweet Grass post office. He reviewed the recordings over several months and noted many instances of Holland acting suspiciously while working: he observed her scrutinizing mail in an outgoing tray, placing mail in her apron, handling mail at a back desk and in her purse, and placing cash in a personal bag.
She initially denied knowing anything about the mail thefts, but later admitted to taking approximately $40 a week beginning in late 2018.
When provided with the surveillance footage and pieces of recovered mail, Holland acknowledged she took money more frequently - approximately three to four days a week. She also admitted to taking $400 in cash from a single envelope in November 2018.
She also confessed to stealing $30 the day prior to the interview. In addition to the money, she said she stole six to seven gift cards, including two for Walmart. When shown the receipts, she confirmed that they appeared to reflect what she had bought.
She explained that she generally targeted what appeared to be holiday or birthday cards and would open and remove the items of value, attempt to reseal the envelopes, and throw them away if she could not.
Holland, 38 years old, pleaded guilty in May to theft of mail by a postal employee and destruction of mail by a postal employee.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided, and sentenced Holland to two years of probation, fined $1,000, and ordered to pay $2,065 restitution, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said in a news release.