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Cleveland Mail Carrier Charged With Delay, Destruction Of Mail

The mail discovered in the off-duty postal worker's car included an absentee ballot application, political advertisements and General Election mailers from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. [JL IMAGES / Shutterstock]
A United States Postal Service mailbox

More than 330 pieces of mail were found in the vehicle of a Maple Heights mail carrier charged with delay or destruction of mail. That includes an absentee ballot application and several other election-related items, according to a press release from the United States Department of Justice.

The defendant, 27-year-old De’Andrian L. Rice, was charged Friday with a federal criminal complaint, according to the release, after special agents with the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General found various parcels in her vehicle Oct. 19. Rice’s initial hearing was set for Friday afternoon.

“Americans depend upon the reliability and security of the U.S. mail, especially during this election season,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said in the release. “Actions by mail carriers and postal employees that violate this trust will result in federal prosecution.”

USPS has faced criticism in recent months for delays and policy changes that make it harder to deliver mail on time. In Cleveland, sorting machines were decommissioned and removed from select locations. The changes come as the coronavirus pandemic  caused record-breaking numbers of residents to rely on absentee ballots to cast their votes. Officials have warned voters of possible delays for mailed ballots.

Federal agents found a total of 335 pieces of mail in the trunk of Rice’s car after she was arrested off duty in Bedford. The parcels included an absentee ballot application, 20 political advertisements, 15 items from the Voter Participation Center and 14 General Election mailers from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Some non-election mail, such as items from the City of Cleveland Water Department and the Dolly Parton book club, were also part of the delayed mail.

All of the mail items were intended for delivery around Cleveland and Bedford, according to the release. The absentee ballot application was returned to the sender, and the rest has been returned to the mail stream.