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Former Indiana postal manager gets 40 months for stealing hundreds of checks worth at least $1.7M

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A former customer service manager at a U.S. Postal Service office in Indianapolis has been sentenced to 40 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing hundreds of checks worth about $1.7 million that businesses had mailed.

James Lancaster, 42, fought back tears Wednesday after U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced him, saying the Indianapolis man's actions warranted a significant sentence, including prison time, WTHR-TV reported.

“The defendant really has no excuse for his actions,” she told the court after announcing Lancaster's sentence. Pratt added that Lancaster was in a position of trust at a busy post office but had shown "nothing other than greed and disregard of the victims.”

She also ordered Lancaster to pay more than $88,000 in restitution to his victims, saying that his actions had “seriously impacted” local businesses and also eroded trust in the U.S. Postal Service.

Prosecutors said Lancaster was the customer service manager at the New Augusta post office branch on Indianapolis' northwest side when he began stealing mail containing checks in early 2021.

Court records show he stole at least 272 checks worth about $1.7 million dollars from 59 different businesses, including hospitals, utility companies and car dealerships, as well as charities and a cancer research center.

Lancaster pleaded guilty mail theft and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

A co-conspirator, Jordan McPhearson of Blue Island, Illinois, was sentenced last year to 42 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.