A young U.S. Postal Service letter carrier pleaded guilty Wednesday to dumping two weeks’ worth of mail down a storm drain on his route in a deal with federal prosecutors in Washington.
Christopher Newton, 23, was working as a carrier assistant in Northeast Washington in May 2016 when WJLA-7 television news notified his superiors of mail found in a storm drain near the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, authorities said.
Postal managers converged at the intersection of Douglas Street and Anacostia Avenue NE “where they observed and recovered 74 pieces of mail protruding from a storm drain,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily A. Miller of the District wrote in court papers.
After a manhole cover was removed, postal inspectors “recovered 17 large trash bags of mail” in a nearby sewer, Miller said in filings.
All were to have been delivered along Newton’s route in the area between May 2 and 16, 2016, prosecutors charged.
The bags contained “15,000 pieces of mail. That’s what makes it egregious,” Miller told U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle at the plea hearing.
Newton pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing the mail, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison at sentencing Sept. 6.
“It was dumped by you?” asked Huvelle.
“Yes ma’am,” said Newton.
Newton was not asked during the hearing why he dumped the mail and after the hearing his attorney declined to answer that question.
Newton told Huvelle that he worked out of the River Terrace post office on Benning Road NE last May. He said that he spent two years at Prince George’s Community College, worked about six months with the Postal Service and is now a Metro Access driver.
Newton “announced that he was quitting his job as a mail carrier immediately upon being confronted by a supervisor about the dumped mail,” Miller said in the filings.