(HOUSTON) – The owners of three third-party mailing and presort companies and several of their employees have been charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit mail fraud by possessing and using counterfeit postage meter machines to affix counterfeit postage in large mailings resulting in lost revenue of more than $14 million to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) over a four-year period, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Chief Postal Inspector William R. Gilligan Jr. announced today. The seven-count indictment was returned under seal by a Houston grand jury on Thursday, June 17, 2010, and unsealed today.
Accused of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and four counts of postage meter fraud arising from a counterfeit metered postage scheme are Neal Lim, 49, the owner of Gulf Coast Presort Inc. (GCP) and Mail Processing Center Inc. (MPC), David Herrera, 44, the owner of Professional Mail Services Inc. (PMS), Robert Kamau Mungai, 41, the manager of GCP and MPC, Ricardo Garciduenas, 57, a supervisor of the GCP location, Ariel Puyo Alban, 46, a supervisor of the MPC location, and Nicole Garciduenas, 30, a postage meter operator at MPC. Lim, Mungai and Ricardo Garciduenas were arrested last night by investigating agents. Each of these three defendants has appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner and each ordered released on a $50,000 unsecured bond pending trial of this case. Each is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, June 24, 2010, for counsel determination. A summons or court order to appear was served yesterday on Herrera, Alban and Nicole Garciduenas directing each to make their appearance in federal court on June 28, 2010.
According to the indictment, MPC, GCP and PMS are third-party mailers and presort companies which operated as mailing agents engaged in the business of preparing, presorting and presenting mail to the USPS for delivery on behalf of other customers. As a presort bureau, GCP was also engaged in the business of pre-sorting and/or automating mail for a larger number of mailers serviced as the bureau’s customers. All six defendants are accused of conspiring to possess and use counterfeit postage meter machines to apply postage in excess of amounts actually paid to the USPS. The indictment alleges that over the four-year period beginning in January 2004 to July 2007, the USPS incurred in excess of $14 million in lost revenue as a result of this alleged scheme.
“The health and success of the Postal Service depends upon strong and aggressive revenue protection,” said Gilligan Jr. “The Postal Inspection Service will continue to identify and pursue dishonest mailers who deliberately avoid proper payment of postage.”
USPS allows mailers to use postage meter machines, leased by the mailer from a USPS approved and authorized provider, to affix postage meter strips/indicia to mail. All metered mail must be pre-paid by the mailer. Per a licensing agreement with the USPS, an approved meter provider maintains customer information to ensure the proper payment of postage and is responsible for setting and resetting meters with postage and maintaining an inventory.
Third-party mailers are mailing agents in business of preparing and presenting mail on behalf of others. A presort bureau is a company that presorts or automates mail for mailers who are their customers. USPS also offers varying discounts for postage on large mailings that have been presorted. If presorting activities lower the required postage to an amount below the amount affixed to the mail, the presort bureau may claim a “Value Added Refund” from the USPS.
The discovery of discrepancies between projected revenue and the actual amount of pre-paid postage to the USPS by MPC, GCP and PMS lead to an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years on the conspiracy to commit mail fraud, 20 years on the substantive mail fraud counts and five years on the postage meter fraud counts.
Special Assistant United States Attorney Tammie Y. Moore is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law
source: US Attorney’s Office