Brandon Wilson, 27, of Buffalo, New York is facing a delay or destruction of mail charge, according to a criminal complaint. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Wilson was stopped at the Canadian border in New York State on Nov. 3 and investigators found over 800 pieces of undelivered mail, including absentee ballots.
According to court documents, on Election Day at approximately 7:34 p.m., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers encountered Wilson at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry. The roadway connects the United States and Canada.
As part of a standard vehicle sweep, Wilson was asked to open the trunk of his 2016 Chevrolet Impala. Officers found a mail bin containing numerous mail pieces, along with multiple U.S. Postal Service (USPS) uniform items bearing the service’s logo and a USPS identification badge with Wilson’s name.
Wilson claimed the mail belonged to him and his mother, but was unable to explain why the letters were addressed to other people living in a variety of zip codes, according to the complaint. Wilson claimed he was not heading to Canada. He said he made a wrong turn. He said he intended to deliver the mail and had forgotten to return the mail to the post office.
The USPS Office of Inspector General was called to retrieve the recovered mail pieces. A subsequent inventory of the recovered mail pieces revealed three absentee ballots sent to two Buffalo addresses from the Erie County, New York Board of Elections. A total of 813 pieces of mail was found.
The letters were destined for zip codes 14227, 14211, 14214, with the majority destined for 14215. Cancellation dates showed seven dates between Sept. 16 and Oct. 26, 2020.
Wilson told special agents with the USPS Office of Inspector General that he placed mail from his assigned delivery routes inside the trunk of his vehicle.
Wilson said he started doing so in September. Overall, he said he placed mail into the trunk on more than four but less than 10 instances.
Wilson “intended to whittle down the amount of mail in the trunk of his vehicle by placing a small amount of the mail into USPS mis sort containers in the morning before his shift began,” the criminal complaint states.
Wilson denied knowledge of the election ballots and said he did not steal greeting cards, cash, or checks.
“This Office is committed not only to ensuring the integrity of the mails but also of individuals’ rights to vote in a free and fair election,” U.S. Attorney James Kennedy for the Western District of New York said in a statement. “The criminal conduct with which this defendant is alleged to have engaged, undermined both of those interests.”
Wilson appeared in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York by teleconference on Wednesday.
A public defender representing the USPS employee didn’t respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for the USPS told The Buffalo News that Wilson was assigned to “emergency placement,” an off duty status without pay.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.