(WSVN) - She was the friendly mail carrier that everyone in the neighborhood loved, but behind her smile was a secret that could send her to federal prison. The Nightteam’s Brian Entin investigates.
Brian Entin: “Ms. Coleman, I’m Brian Entin from 7News. Why were you stealing people’s mail?”
Coleen Coleman sure did look surprised to see us.
Brian Entin: “Do you feel bad? Those folks trusted you.”
For years, Coleman was the mail carrier in the Carriage Pointe Estates neighborhood in Coral Springs.
On her public Facebook page, she posted a picture in uniform.
Mike McEntee, neighbor: “I trusted her. I thought she was a nice lady, but she, she just … she was a con.”
Last year, neighbors noticed some of their mail was missing.
Mike McEntee says his wife realized the grandchildren were not getting their birthday cards.
Mike McEntee: “She said they weren’t getting the mail, the gift cards. They weren’t getting small amounts of cash to the younger kids.”
Neighbor James Durkis was also missing mail.
James Durkis, neighbor: “One of my sons lives in Norway and sent a card with pictures of his children — my grandchildren — as a nice gift for Christmas. And, never got it! You wait for it. It doesn’t come. You feel empty.”
Mike and James checked with their neighbors, and they all had the same story.
Their mail — mostly envelopes with gift cards and cash inside — vanished.
James Durkis: “Something was going on. I mean, it was too obvious.”
The neighbors went to the post office to complain.
Federal agents investigated and determined some of the stolen gift cards were used at Walmart, Wendy’s and Publix in Coral Springs.
They reviewed surveillance video and saw mail carrier Coleen Coleman using one of the stolen gift cards.
James Durkis: “It felt like I had been burglarized. I mean, you know? It hits you down inside.”
Unbeknownst to neighbors, federal agents had a plan to set Coleman up. They put $300 in a greeting card envelope and put it into a mailbox on Coleman’s route. The envelope had a special tracking beacon in it that goes off if it’s opened.
Just 11 minutes after agents dropped the envelope in the mail, the beacon went off.
Agents swarmed Coleman’s mail truck and found the cash in her purse along with 16 open greeting cards.
Mike McEntee: “They surrounded the Jeep and took her out of the Jeep and handcuffed her.”
Federal prosecutors say Coleman confessed to stealing the cash and the gift cards.
Brian Entin: “Do you think she needs to go to jail?”
James Durkis: “Absolutely. Some time in jail, absolutely. If nothing else to send the other employees a message: ‘Look, if she gets caught and I get caught, that’s what’s going to happen to me.'”
Coleman pleaded guilty to theft of mail by a U.S. Postal Service employee and is set to be sentenced on Thursday in federal court.
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