A former Connecticut postmaster could face 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding the U.S. Postal Service of $875,000 through bribery and embezzlement schemes.
Ephrem D. Nguyen, a postmaster for a postal office in Danbury, Connecticut pleaded guilty on Oct. 13 to multiple schemes involving using USPS credit cards to pay a vendor about at least $760,000 more than necessary for maintenance and repair work, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Additionally, he said he embezzled over $80,000 with credit cards to rent vehicles for personal use and approved fraudulent travel expense reimbursement claims exceeding $8,000 for a co-worker.
The former employee’s work responsibilities included supervising maintenance and repair for USPS equipment, facilities and vehicles.
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In late 2020, Nguyen required that all maintenance and repair for the postal services go through a specific vendor despite knowing another vendor had been contracted for the office, the news release states. He also demanded the vendor provide free vehicle maintenance and repairs for himself, a co-worker, one of his children and an employee of Nguyen’s personal business.
In 2022, the former employee asked for and received $90,000 from the same vendor through cash bribes causing USPS to overpay the vendor for vehicle service that he called a “raise,” according to the news release.
The accumulation of these defrauding schemes adds to about $874,930.59, the release states.
“As federal employees, we take an oath to protect the public, including funds that have been allocated for federal services,” U.S. Attorney Avery said in the release. “This corrupt employee operated a brazen bribery, kickback, and embezzlement scheme that defrauded the U.S. Postal Service of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I commend the USPS Office of Inspector General and the FBI for their excellent work in this investigation.”
The federal public defender representing Nguyen has declined requests for comment, according to the Associated Press.
“The public must have confidence that Postal Service employees will conduct their work in an honest manner,” Kenneth Cleevely, a Special Agent for USPS’ Inspector General, said in the news release.
Nguyen was released on a $100,00 bond and currently resides in Quincy, Massachusetts where he awaits his sentencing.
The hearing is scheduled for Jan. 5 and the honest service wire fraud he admitted to carries a maximum imprisonment term of 20 years, according to the news release.
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