Former postal employee pleads guilty to unlawful possession of prescription medication
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A former U.S. Postal Service worker pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of unlawful possession of prescription medication, according to the Garfield County Combined Courts office.
Leta May McDaniel, 39, of DeBeque, was arrested Jan. 28 on suspicion of two counts of the crime. Authorities believe McDaniel, who was a rural route carrier for the Parachute Post Office, took Vicodin and methadone from mail coming from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Grand Junction through the Parachute office.
Details of any possible plea agreement related to her plea Thursday were not immediately available.
McDaniel also faced two federal counts of theft of mail by a postal employee. One count was dismissed after she pleaded guilty to a lesser form of the other. She was sentenced to two years of probation by Chief U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham on Aug. 27.
A USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) special agent in charge said the allegations came to light after a number of citizens ” most of them veterans ” realized they weren’t receiving all their medications.
One Parachute man told investigators he’d lost more than 500 morphine tablets prescribed for his pain from terminal cancer, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Others also noticed missing medication and envelopes that looked like they were tampered with.
The OIG said it caught McDaniel after placing a “test parcel” at her workstation containing a fake Vicodin bottle and a wireless transmitter to notify agents if the envelope was opened. The envelope was addressed somewhere outside McDaniel’s delivery area. She brought it on her route anyway, opened it two minutes later and took the fake Vicodin, the affidavit says.
The OIG said it found Vicodin, methadone and hypodermic needles in her car. McDaniel admitted to stealing prescription medications from the mail for about a year, investigators said.
McDaniel worked at the Parachute Post Office from January 2001 until being placed on leave Dec. 10 last year and subsequently resigning.
McDaniel was granted bond on her own personal recognizance after the arrest. She will appear for sentencing on Oct. 23.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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