Crime & Justice

Anchorage mail carrier stole drugs from mail, charges say

A mail carrier employed at a U.S. Postal Service facility in Anchorage has been charged with stealing prescription drugs from the mail for more than a year.

According to a federal information statement, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, Brandon Gruendler is charged with one count of theft of mail. The offense spanned from October 2013 to Jan. 16, 2015, with Gruendler allegedly stealing drugs as a letter carrier with the Muldoon post office branch.

"The defendant specifically identified mail parcels that contained prescription drugs and stole those drugs," prosecutors wrote. "The removal of these prescription drugs from the mail thus deprived the individual patients of the medications that had been prescribed for their needs and that they were waiting to receive in the mail."

John Masters, an assistant special agent in charge with the USPS' Office of Inspector General, said in an email Wednesday afternoon that his office first received reports in March 2014 of "mail theft related to missing prescription medications" in the Anchorage area. A subsequent investigation led to the arrest of a "person of interest" in January 2015, with inspectors submitting their report to U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler's office in October for prosecution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward, who is prosecuting the case against Gruendler on behalf of Loeffler's office, said a court summons had been issued for Gruendler. Proceedings to terminate his employment at the Postal Service were still in progress.

Steward declined to discuss what Gruendler allegedly did with the drugs, the amount stolen or its value.

According to Steward, the charges against Gruendler carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison followed by two years' supervised release, as well as a maximum fine of $250,000.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.