California USPS Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing Suspected Drug Parcels from Tulare Post Office

FRESNO, Calif. —5/21/24 – Nathan Vaughn Southard, 34, of Visalia, pleaded guilty Monday to theft of mail by a postal service employee, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Southard was an employee at the Tulare Main Post Office. On Oct. 19, 2023, Southard stole a parcel from the post office because he believed it contained marijuana and intended to sell it for a profit. Southard admitted that over the past seven years he had stolen parcels worth approximately $50,000.

U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Western Pacific Area Field Office, Deputy Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Paige said, “Narcotics and theft offenses committed by Postal Service personnel are completely unacceptable. The special agents for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General are steadfast in their dedication to maintaining the integrity of the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS OIG values our working relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and various law enforcement agencies in holding Postal Service personnel accountable for their actions when they violate a position of trust.”

Southard is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 9, 2024, by U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston. Southard faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Spivak is prosecuting the case.

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