Woman pleads guilty to stealing U.S. Postal money orders

Published 4:53 pm Friday, February 21, 2014

A former United States Postal Service employee from Chilton County pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing more than $27,000 in money orders.

Sharon Harrison, 56, of Maplesville was charged with theft of U.S. Postal Service money orders and theft of government property totaling $27,291.46.

At a hearing Tuesday, she pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre to two counts of theft of money orders and one count of theft of government property.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining four charges at sentencing as part of Harrison’s plea agreement.

Harrison was indicted by a federal grand jury Dec. 27, 2013, on charges related to stealing money orders and other postal funds.

Prior to her indictment, Harrison was employed at the Shelby post office.

She was hired by the U.S. Postal Service in May 1988 as a sales/service/distribution clerk and later became the officer-in-charge at the Shelby post office, the plea agreement said.

In April 2013, a U.S. Postal Service report showed discrepancies in transactions in the Shelby post office, where Harrison’s responsibilities included maintaining stamp stock and money order inventories.

Special agents with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigated the office’s cash and stamp summary and found that 180 money order vouchers were not properly accounted for by Harrison on a daily report, and insufficient cash was on hand for the vouchers.

Harrison was found to be the purchaser of some of the money orders, which is a violation of postal service policy, the plea agreement said.

She confessed in April 2013 to stealing the money orders and claimed she intended to replace the money at the time, but “the vouchers kept piling up,” the plea agreement said.

Harrison has repaid the U.S. Postal Service for the money orders she used, according to the agreement.

Harrison was released on bond. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 10 at 11:30 a.m.

She is being represented by Clanton attorney Angie Collins, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank M. Salter is prosecuting the case.

Collins did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The maximum punishment for theft of U.S. Postal money orders is up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the maximum punishment for theft of government property is up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.