May 20, 2013

Presumed East Vassalboro mail thefts under investigation

Donations to library, historical society may have been taken; postal inspectors spokesman says mail is now safe

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

VASSALBORO — Federal inspectors are investigating allegations of mail theft at the East Vassalboro post office.

click image to enlarge

The East Vassalboro Post Office as seen on Monday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

"There is an active, open investigation," London Warren, the regional public information officer for the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service, said Monday.

Warren said the federal office, which investigates only postal service employees, has been investigating since April.

She also said that local consumers who use the post office should "absolutely not" be worried that there are any ongoing incidents of wrongdoing at the branch, which is located on Main Street.

"The mail is safe," Warren said.

In response to questions about the investigation, Thomas Rizzo, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said that an employee left the branch in April, but declined further comment.

The investigation was opened in April, which is also when a $50 donation to the Vassalboro Library was diverted, according to library Director Dawn Thistle.

Thistle said a member of the community sent the check to the library in memory of Mary Heeg, a long-time library supporter.

The check was mailed, Thistle said, but it never arrived at the library.

"It's my understanding that the check was cashed, but not by us," she said.

Thistle filed the complaint with the library on May 11, and she was contacted by federal investigators on May 14, who asked her about the incident.

Thistle said she believes the event was not an isolated one, and worries that other checks sent in relation to two ongoing memorial donation campaigns may have been diverted and illegally cashed.

Thistle said she was concerned that local residents "who have been so generous in support of the library" are having their trust abused.

She said that if members of the community have made a donation but not received a thank-you card, they should contact the library. Otherwise, she said, the donor might assume that the library received the check, when in fact it was cashed by a third party.

"We have no way of contacting them," she said.

The Vassalboro Historical Society also has raised concerns about mail delivery. It posted a message on its website that warns mail delivery may have been interrupted and asks donors who have not received a thank-you note to call 923-3533.

The historical society's president, Janice Clowes, said the society was not aware of any specific cases of wrongdoing, but posted the message on the website as a proactive measure.

An employee who answered the phone at the East Vassalboro post office referred questions to Rizzo.

Warren asked those who are concerned that their mail is not arriving at its intended destination to contact the office of the inspector general at or 888-877-7644.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

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