Customs officers found more than 800 pieces of undelivered mail, including a few absentee ballots, in the trunk of a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier in western New York, authorities said Thursday.
Buffalo mailman Brandon Wilson, 27, was charged with one count of delay or destruction of mail, according to a criminal complaint prepared by Brendan Boone, a special agent with the USPS Office of Inspector General.
Wilson was crossing into Buffalo from Canada on Tuesday, over the Peace Bridge, when Customs and Border Protection officers — "as part of a standard CBP vehicle sweep" — asked him to pop the trunk of his 2016 Chevrolet Impala, according to Boone.
That's where they found 813 pieces of mail, including three absentee ballots that never made it to their appointed destination, authorities said.
The missing mail had postmarks between Sept. 16 and Oct. 26, Boone wrote
"Wilson informed CBP he had intended to deliver the mail and had forgotten to return the mail pieces to the post office," according to the complaint. "Wilson denied knowledge of the three election ballots discovered within the recovered mail."
In a Facebook posting on Sept. 25, now deleted by seen by NBC News, Wilson claimed he didn't deliver mail to a home because of an unleashed dog.
"I’m working today and this lady has her dog on the porch not chained up no leash nothing just walking back and forth so I’m walking past her house and she asked me I have no mail today while I have a bundle of mail for her in my hand I said NOPE!!!! And kept walking," he wrote.
He included a laughing emoji and added, "listen I’m not playing with y’all I will walk smooth past your house with all your mail."
If convicted, Wilson faces up to five years behind bars and a $250,000 fine, authorities said,
Wilson did not immediately return a phone message seeking his comment on Thursday. And reps for the USPS and the National Association of Letter Carriers declined to discuss the case.
“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,” stated U.S. Attorney James Kennedy in a statement on Thursday.
“The criminal conduct with which this defendant is alleged to have engaged, undermined both of those interests.”