NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The manager of a north Kenner post office was arrested Tuesday and charged with misappropriation of postal funds in one of the largest internal thefts by an employee in the history of the U.S. Postal Service, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Federal investigators say Ryan Cortez, 46, of Des Allemands, stole over $630,000 in postal stamps, sold them on eBay and processed payments through PayPal.
According to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in federal court, Postal Office of Inspector General agents were notified by PayPal and eBay regarding significant quantities of U.S. postal stamps being sold by Cortez on eBay. An investigation revealed that, as manager, Cortez had increased the Kenner North Post Office’s reserve stamp stock by more than $600,000. Subpoenaed records from Cortez’s Regions Bank account revealed large deposits, including more than $58,000 in a one-month period in the summer of 2018.
During their investigation, postal OIG agents determined that Cortez withdrew thousands of dollars on a regular basis at the Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans. Harrah’s records revealed Cortez lost over $667,000 since 2011 and lost over $220,000 in 2017 alone. Postal records indicate Cortez earned an annual salary of $70,818.
On Oct. 10, Postal OIG special agents executed a federal search warrant at Cortez’s home. Postal agents arrested Cortez at the Kenner North Post Office earlier this morning.
The criminal complaint also indicates that Cortez embezzled thousands of dollars from the Des Allemands Mennonite Church.
If convicted, Cortez faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Cortez was ordered remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday (Oct. 11).
The investigation is ongoing.