MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A former Mobile postal worker and her co-conspirator face up to 30 years in federal prison after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Court documents describe when and how Kalaijha Lewis, a former employee at USPS since 2015, would steal mail that included business checks from her job at the St. Joseph Street location and sold them to other people including her co-conspirator, Brian Williams III.
Documents state “Williams and Lewis’s other co-conspirators sold the stolen checks online via an encrypted messaging platform called Telegram.” Most of those checks were deposited.
In January, victims, which included businesses in Mobile, started noticing their checks that were supposed to be either mailed from the St. Joseph location or arriving at their P.O. Box there were going missing, so they started filing complaints.
Two examples were listed in the court documents. The first was a $39,915.74 check that was supposed to land in the P.O. Box of a maritime business in February but never showed up. The second was in March when a general contractor in Mobile mailed a $58,184.39 check to a law firm’s P.O. Box, but that check never showed up either.
Both checks were stolen and deposited by an unauthorized payee, according to the documents.
In early June, investigators put surveillance cameras in the St. Joseph location. Lewis was seen checking the plastic window screen on envelopes to see the amount of the check. She’d then place the check to the side, and before she went home for the night, she would hide them in her pants.
During the investigation, the Telegram chatroom that Lewis and Williams used to distribute the checks was inspected, and the total value posted to the chat added up to $17.7 million.
On June 23, Lewis was arrested. At that time, she had 26 stolen business checks on her. Court records say she admitted to stealing them.
After she was arrested, she worked with investigators to catch Williams. She set up a meeting with him at the Exxon gas station on Water Street, and that’s where he was arrested.
He was found with $10,773.53 in cash on him, stolen checks and a Kia car key. When investigators looked in the Kia, they found 53 stolen checks with a total of $417,238.01.
Both Lewis and Williams are set to be sentenced in federal court in early January.