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3 indicted in Alabama mail thefts involving stolen keys

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Three Alabama residents have been indicted in a federal investigation that found letter carrier illegally sold keys that allowed others to open and pilfer Birmingham-area mailboxes.

The indictment filed Thursday in federal court in Birmingham accuses Keaundria Janae Gresham, 30, of Pleasant Grove, a letter carrier at a local post office, of selling two keys for $3,000 each to Derrell Allen Matthews, 25, of Birmingham.

What the U.S. Postal Service calls “arrow keys” open mail collection boxes. It’s illegal for someone who doesn’t work for the post office to have them.

U.S. Postal Inspector Montaleto Barber said in a sworn statement on April 4 that people who steal mail often then try to illegally cash checks that they find. Barber said thieves have hit boxes outside multiple post offices, including in Hoover and Birmingham, with postal inspectors tracking down Matthews based on surveillance videos of a car registered to him. When they raised Matthews’ house in October, Barber said they found not only an arrow key, but stolen mail, stolen checks and counterfeit checks.

Matthews then bought a second arrow key from Gresham after the initial raid, Barber said, and resumed stealing mail. Matthews and Steven Cornelius Hudson Jr., 34, of Bessemer, were arrested April 2 after Barber said he watched them steal mail from boxes outside a Shelby County post office. They had multiple garbage bags of stolen mail in the car when they were arrested.

Matthews was initially charged on April 4. He was later released on bail. All three are scheduled to be arraigned on May 11. A federal public defender representing Matthews didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Saturday. No lawyers are listed for Hudson and Gresham.

Matthews and Gresham are charged with conspiracy. Matthews is also charged with bribing a public official, illegal possession of U.S. Postal Service keys and possession of stolen mail. Gresham is also charged with accepting a bribe and illegal possession of U.S. Postal Service keys. Hudson is charged with possession of stolen mail.

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