Mail-in voting sparks debate in PA
The presidential election is less than eight weeks away and all eyes are on battleground states like Pennsylvania. Board of Elections officials there are anticipating at least 50 percent of voters will vote by mail.
Two U.S. postal employees in the Pittsburgh area are facing federal charges after heaps of undelivered mail were discovered in the trash this past week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday.
Sean Troesch, 48, and James McLenigan, 29, have been charged in two separate criminal complaints with delay or destruction of mail by a postal employee, according to U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady. No mail-in ballots were found among the discarded mail, but two requests for mail-in ballots were recovered.
If convicted, each man could face a maximum term of imprisonment of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
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Pennsylvania is a major battleground state in the upcoming presidential election.
"During this election season, the integrity of the mails is more important than ever," Brady said in a statement. "When any public employee, including a mail carrier, violates the law, we will respond quickly. These carriers each attempted to destroy mail, including both political advertisements and an application for a mail-in ballot. Anyone who would obstruct or delay United States mail that includes election-related materials should know that the Department of Justice will take quick, efficient action against them."
Troesch, who works at the U.S. Post Office in Mount Oliver, Pa., was spotted taking mail from the rear of his vehicle and placing it into trash bags. He then allegedly placed the trash bags outside his home to dispose of them. The post office received a complaint about his activity on Oct. 8.
Federal agents responded to his home on Meadowcrest Road in Baldwin on Sunday to find nine black trash bags had again been placed on the curb before the scheduled garbage pick-up Monday morning.
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Prosecutors said Troesch initially told investigators that only that single bag contained mail intended to be delivered on his route but ultimately acknowledged that all of the trash bags did and told investigators to take them. Four mail items were also recovered from Troesch’s personal vehicle.
Federal agents at the Mount Oliver post office on Tuesday took inventory of the mail recovered from inside Troesch’s car and the bags outside his home to find it contained 314 items of First Class Mail, seven items of Certified Mail, one item of Priority Mail and 1,311 items political advertisements or similar items of campaign mail. One application requesting the delivery of a mail-in ballot was included among the pieces of First Class Mail. The seized mail did not contain any mail-in ballots.
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Separately, McLenigan, a city carrier and U.S. postal service employee working out of the Pittsburgh Post Office Bloomfield Station, was allegedly spotted on video surveillance footage on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 dumping mail into a trash bin outside the Persad Center, a mental health center serving the LGBTQ+ community in Lawrenceville, Pa. An employee at the center recovered the mail from the bin and reported the matter to the Office of Inspector General.
Federal agents took inventory of the mail recovered from the Persad Center and found it contained 75 items of First Class Mail and 25 items of political advertisements or similar items of campaign mail. The seized mail did not contain any mail-in ballots, but it did contain one request for a mail-in ballot.
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McLenigan allegedly admitted to investigators that he discarded mail intended for delivery into multiple trash cans along his route.
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