A 26-year-old postal worker from New Jersey faces federal charges after nearly 2,000 pieces of mail, including ballots, were found discarded in dumpsters, but prosecutors do not believe there was any political motive in the case.
Nicholas Beauchene faces charges of delay, secretion or detention of mail and obstruction of mail after about 1,875 pieces of mail, including 99 general election ballots, intended for Essex County, New Jersey, locations were found in dumpsters on Friday and Monday, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
U.S. Attorney Sara Merin had asked for bail to be set at $50,000 because Beauchene had resigned from his job with the Postal Service and admitted dumping the mail, though there was “no indication that there was any political motive.”
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Beauchene did not say anything during his first court appearance, which was held Wednesday via Zoom. He was released on $25,000 bail into the custody of his brother.
The mail had been scheduled to be delivered Sept. 28, Oct. 1, and Oct. 2, to addresses on certain postal routes, and Beauchene was the only mail carrier assigned to deliver mail to the addresses on the recovered mail, Carpenito said.
The recovered mail was placed back into the mail stream for delivery to its intended recipients. Copies of the recovered mail were made and retained as evidence, said Carpenito.
In addition to the ballots, there were 627 pieces of first class, 873 pieces of standard class, two pieces of certified mail and 276 campaign flyers from local candidates for West Orange Town Council and Board of Education recovered, Carpenito said.
The delay of mail charge is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The obstruction of mail charge is punishable by a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
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This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: USPS worker charged after NJ mail-in ballots found in dumpsters