WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A mailman is off the job and under federal investigation after a customer traced a missing gift card back to him.
The customer, who didn’t want to be identified, had been expecting a refund in the form of a $76 gift card in April. When it didn’t come in the mail, he called the company.
“They’re like, ‘It shows you’ve activated it,’” he said. “’It shows you’ve used it,’ and I’m like, ‘I never received it and I don’t have it.’”
Several weeks later, the company sent the victim a list of the transactions someone had made using the card. They included purchases at Target, Speedway and, fortunately for the victim, Vincenzo’s Pizza in Wyoming. The customer immediately called Vincenzo’s, which delivers.
“He was able to go back and look up his records and he’s like, ‘OK, it was a delivery for this address and this is the person’s name’ and all this stuff. And I was like, ‘OK, thank you,’ and I get off the phone and I marched right over there,” the victim said.
It turned out the address where the pizza was delivered was just one street over from the victim’s home at Ramblewood Apartments in Wyoming.
It wasn’t until the victim confronted 26-year-old Alexis Odelin in the hallway of Odelin’s apartment building, camera rolling, that the victim recognized that the suspect was his mailman.
“You’re our mailman,” the victim can be heard saying in the video he recorded.
“Huh?” replied Odelin.
“You took a $76 gift card and it’s been tracked to you, so you have two options,” the victim told Odelin on the tape. “You give me $76 right now or I’m going to go and get you evicted. I’m going to call the police and press charges.”
On the tape, Odelin did not deny having taken the gift card. He said he would try to repay the victim.
“If you give me a chance, I’ll see if I can borrow the money,” Odelin said.
When the victim asked Odelin why he’d taken the money, Odelin alluded to money problems and possible eviction.
“I’m actually on my way out of the apartment,” Odelin said. “I don’t have the money.”
Odelin was hired by the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail in October 2015.
Target 8 discovered Odelin had pleaded guilty to shoplifting two months before he was hired. But federal authorities say it wasn’t until recently that USPS discovered that criminal conviction and found that Odelin had lied on his application by failing to report it.
The Office of Inspector General within USPS told Target 8 that investigators were in the midst of investigating Odelin’s criminal record when the post office received “several loss complaints” from customers along Odelin’s route.
The OIG says Odelin resigned from the USPS when investigators confronted him on May 25.
Agents also reported that investigators found Odelin had opened mail from his route on the day he resigned. That mail was returned to the customers.
When Target 8 tried to confront Odelin at his home, his wife came out of the apartment instead. She said Odelin had not stolen any mail. She also said her husband told the customer whatever he could just to get him to leave because Odelin’s children were in the apartment at the time.
Meanwhile, the OIG said it expects to turn its investigation over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the next week. Federal prosecutors will then decide whether to seek criminal charges.
If you want to report alleged mail theft or fraud or any kind of alleged misconduct by postal employees or contractor, the OIG urges you to call its hotline at 1.888.USPS.OIG (877.7644).
A public information officer with the OIG provided the following statement from the USPS:
“The vast majority of U.S. Postal Service personnel are dedicated, hard-working public servants dedicated to moving mail to its proper destination who would never consider engaging in any form of criminal behavior. This type of alleged behavior within the Postal Service is not tolerated and when a postal employee betrays that trust of the American people, the special agents in the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General vigorously investigate these matters as we did in this instance and work with local, state and federal prosecutors to hold accountable those employees who violate that public trust.”