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Florida letter carrier arrested, accused of stealing cash from greeting cards

Residents from a retirement community were allegedly targeted by defendant, who was turned in by her own parents after finding rifled mail in her bedroom, authorities said.

A Florida letter carrier stole about 4,000 pieces of mail, almost all greeting cards from a retirement community, looking for cash in a month-long theft spree uncovered by her own parents, authorities said Friday.

Miranda Delee Farleigh, 25, admitted "that she had an addiction to heroin and that the addiction had caused her criminal behavior," according to a complaint written by U.S. Postal Inspector David Keith.

Farleigh, a contract mail carrier for the USPS for six years, worked out of Lady Lake with a routes that included The Villages retirement community, officials said.

Farleigh's mother, also a contract letter carrier, told the Lady Lake postmaster in late November that she had found "several tubs and bags of" mail that "had been rifled (unlawfully opened)" in her daughter's bedroom, Keith wrote.

The defendant's father is also a contract USPS carrier and both parents found more stolen mail in their daughter's car before the mother "relieved Miranda Farleigh of her postal duties and secured the recovered mail," according to the complaint.

"Miranda Farleigh admitted to me that she had been rifling mail containing greeting cards in order to steal currency and/or gift cards," according to Keith. "Farleigh confessed that while she had been working in the official capacity as a mail carrier, she had targeted the outgoing mail that was dropped off by residents in The Villages."

The court document did not reveal any estimate of how much in cash or gift cards might have been taken.

"The extent (amounts, etc.) of the theft is part of an ongoing investigation," Tampa-based U.S. Attorney spokesman William Daniels said in a statement.

In the criminal complaint, Keith cited interviews with seven residents of The Villages whose mail was allegedly stolen by Farleigh.

One of the victims, identified by the initials R.D., had 13 pieces of rifled mail allegedly found in Farleigh's car.

"R.D. advised that five pieces of mail intended for R.D.'s grandchildren each had contained $20 cash inside the envelopes," Keith wrote. "When recovered, the pieces of mail no longer contained the currency."

Farleigh's defense lawyer and her parents did not immediately return messages to NBC News on Friday, seeking their comments.

She's been charged with theft of mail by a postal service employee and faces up to five years behind bars if convicted, prosecutors said.