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Watertown man gets probation for stealing medicine in mail

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A Watertown man has been sentenced to three years’ federal probation for stealing prescription medicines from packages while working at the Watertown post office.

Phillip Wiley, 38, address not available, was also ordered Friday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, to pay $622 in restitution for an Oct. 19 guilty plea to theft of mail matter.

Mr. Wiley, a 13-year postal employee, admitted he opened and removed prescription medications mailed from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Prosecutors said Mr. Wiley admitted stealing the medications because he had a drug problem. In total, he acknowledged stealing 55 pieces of mail since November 2009.

The investigation began in 2010 when special agents from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and the Department of Veteran Affairs received complaints from customers who did not receive medications mailed to them.

According to a sentencing memorandum filed with the court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara B. Thompson, at least 24 people reported they did not receive medications, resulting in the VA having to replace the medicines at the cost of $622. Ms. Thomson wrote the loss figure “does not accurately represent the true loss in this case.”

“The true loss was the pain inflicted on veterans who had their medication stolen; this loss cannot be calculated,” she wrote to Senior Judge Frederick J. Scullin.

Ms. Thomson said many of the victims had to go without pain medication until it could be replaced, including one who went without his medications for two months, causing him to suffer “severe” pain, feelings of anger and loss of sleep. That victim also had to convince the VA he did not receive his medications and at one point was considered a suspect in the thefts, “causing him to suffer further pain in the form of depression and emotional distress.”

Ms. Thomson wrote Mr. Wiley’s “long history of addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs” drove him to commit the offenses and asked the court to impose a sentence that included a condition that he participate in drug testing and substance abuse treatment. Judge Scullin ordered Mr. Wiley to continue to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous. Mr. Wiley has resigned voluntarily from the Postal Service, according to court documents.

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