In 2018, panicked residents began calling Elko Hispanic Services in Nevada about green cards, work permits, and other urgent immigration paperwork that never arrived in their mailboxes.
Eloisa Mendoza, who runs the office, heard from at least 60 people in her community, but suspects hundreds more may have been affected, The Nevada Independent reported.
It turns out the missing paperwork, which cost jobs, canceled trips and created other havoc, wasn’t just lost in the mail — it had been purposely destroyed or discarded, federal charges say.
Diana Molyneux, 77, who has since lost her job at a Salt Lake City postal facility, was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2019 on two counts of destroying or delaying mail, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Molyneux has pleaded not guilty to the charges, each of which carry a penalty of up to five years in prison, said defense attorney Wendy Lewis, according to the publication. An April court date was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal prosecutors have identified at least 181 potential victims, mostly legal residents living in Nevada and Utah, KSTU reported.
Many were waiting for permanent residency cards, commonly called green cards, according to the station.
“These people are legally here,” Mendoza said, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. “They went through the legal process to be able to be here.”
Some had paid a second $1,000 processing fee to re-apply after their paperwork failed to arrive, The Nevada Independent reported. Others lost jobs or canceled overseas travel plans as deadlines to finalize their legal residency passed.
“The emotional suffering they went through is very harsh,” Mendoza said, KSTU reported. “I saw the emotion, the stress, the nightmare that these people went through. Sometimes I think, ‘Did she ever think of that?’ What was she doing to the lives of these people?”