A former Canada Post employee was sentenced to house arrest Monday for stealing a $20 Walmart gift card from an envelope in the mail.
Tammy Scott, 47, pleaded guilty to a single charge of theft from mail in relation to the incident, which happened last September.
The envelope containing the gift card was among a pile of mail Scott had picked up for delivery. Walmart surveillance cameras caught her cashing the gift card in the store the next day.
Prosecutor Jude Hall and defence lawyer Stephen Griffin presented a joint suggestion of three months house arrest followed by nine months of probation for Scott.
Hall noted Scott’s prior unrelated criminal record and the seriousness of tampering with the public mail system, while Griffin pointed out Scott is remorseful and has lost her job at Canada Post. While she has found employment elsewhere, she is attempting to get back her job with the mail service, he said.
When asked if she had anything to say, Scott, who had worked with Canada Post for almost 18 years, read from a handwritten piece of paper.
“I know you don’t know me, but I can assure you I am not the type to commit this crime,” she told the judge, saying she was suffering from a “terrible disease” at the time she stole the gift card.
She did not elaborate on the nature of her illness, but said she would not be back before the court.
“My true guilt here is not putting myself before my disease,” she said.”
Judge Jackie Brazil said she accepted Scott was remorseful and has taken responsibility for her actions by pleading guilty, though the judge mentioned the evidence against Scott had been strong.
Brazil accepted the lawyers’ suggestion and sentenced Scott to three months of house arrest — including an order to stay away from alcohol, something she acknowledged she includes with all house arrest sentences to reflect rules of incarceration — followed by nine months of supervised probation.
Theft of mail has a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail.
“The fact that theft of mail is a separate offence under the Criminal Code signals that Canada takes it very seriously,” Brazil said. “This is a breach of trust against the public. It’s a very serious allegation.”
When asked what measures Canada Post has in place regarding theft of mail by employees, a spokeswoman told The Telegram the organization follows the federal government’s policy on government security.
“This means that we conduct background checks on all employment candidates as well as contractors who have access to the mail and corporate networks,” she wrote in an email.
Scott is not the first Canada Post employee found guilty of pilfering mail. Court decisions from across the country have seen former employees losing their jobs and earning jail terms, house arrest or fines after being convicted of stealing mail. Items stolen included gift cards, credit cards, personal documents, cheques and — in one incident in St. John’s in 1989 — a can of sausages.
A former Canada Post worker was given a $750 fine after he was found to have illegally opened packages while working at the Kenmount Road postal outlet in St. John’s. In one case, the man had cut open a parcel and gone through the contents, returning all the items inside except for a can of sausages, which he shared with his colleagues. After an appeal by the Crown, a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge changed the man’s sentence to consist of either the $750 fine and 10 days in jail, or no fine and 30 days in jail.