Investigators: Sting operation leads to postal employee's arrest

USPS vehicle, generic (WHAM photo)

Victor, N.Y. – The man who delivered the mail is now under arrest for allegedly helping himself to what was inside of the letters and cards he was to deliver.

He operated a route covering the northern neighborhoods of Victor. When investigators suspected gift cards were being stolen, they set up an elaborate sting.

First, investigators mapped the complaints of missing mail to one postal route in Victor, known as City Route One. They used a tail, hidden cameras and bait to make this arrest.

Carol Camarella did get an Amazon envelope she was expecting, but

“The package was opened, but there was nothing inside,” she said. “The empty envelope was in my mailbox, which was strange.”

Court papers identify the mail carrier as James Ludwig. Postal agents used an electronic tracking device on Ludwig’s mail truck to track his delivery patterns. Armed with new information, they purchased two $25 gift cards to use as bait.

“We will create our own mail,” explained Scott Balfour of the Office of the Inspector General, “that we know the gift card number, and we’ll put it in front of the employees like an integrity test to see if they deliver it as they’re supposed to, or if they decide to steal it.”

The envelopes containing the gift cards never arrived at their destinations. Instead, they were spent at the Perinton Wegmans. Security cameras inside the store reportedly identified Ludwig at the register – wearing his Post Office uniform. Another camera hidden in his postal truck purportedly captured images of him sorting out cards, removing items from inside the envelopes and putting them in his blue plastic lunch box.

“Postal employees are paid to deliver the mail, not steal the mail,” said Balfour. "And when we receive these types of allegations, we do take them very seriously and we investigate them thoroughly.”

Investigators say the hidden camera in the postal truck also caught Ludwig preparing two lines of white, powdery substance and sniffing them through a rolled-up dollar bill.

“It’s still scary that a federal employee would do something like that on the job,” said Camarella.

Ludwig has been taken off the job. The Office of the Inspector General says anyone in the Victor area north of Main Street who suspects they may have had mail stolen should contact the Post Office as soon as possible. They can do so online here or over the phone at 888-USPS-OIG.

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