A Dorchester, MA woman has admitted to stealing $68,668 in sports cards from the U.S. Mail while working as a clerk at the U.S. Post Office.
Venecia “Melissa” McLaren, 30, has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to theft of mail by a postal service employee.
Prosecutors say on Jan. 21, 2015, while working as a clerk at a post office in Roxbury, McLaren stole a Priority Express Mail package containing the cards. McLaren then gave her sister, Ophelia McLaren, from Queens, N.Y., a portion of the contents to sell with the understanding that the two would share the proceeds.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney William Bloomer, the stolen material consisted of graded and authenticated items with serial numbers, including modern era autograph and relic cards. The actual cards stolen were not in the public record.
Bloomer says McLaren and her sister then posted some of the stolen cards for sale online and not long after, authorities stepped in.
In late March and early April 2015, McLaren sold nine of the cards to a good faith purchaser. Around that same time, federal agents established undercover web-based accounts to communicate with Venecia McLaren and her sister. After communicating with agents, McLaren sold three of the cards to an undercover agent in Boston and offered to sell a fourth. She was then placed under arrest. On that same date, McLaren’s sister and brother, Lennica McLaren, were arrested after they attempted to sell four of the stolen trading cards to an undercover agent in New York.
Ophelia and Lennica McLaren have since pleaded guilty to larceny charges in Queens County Criminal Court, New York.
U.S. District Court Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for April 25.
The charge of mail theft by a postal employee provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 and restitution.Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.