Feds: Ravn Alaska agents stole nearly $500K in goods
Federal authorities say half a dozen people stole hundreds of computers and other goods destined for rural Alaska during a two-year period, while they worked as ramp agents for the airline Ravn Alaska.
A federal grand jury indicted the defendants – Congress Lepou, Breadoflife “Presley” Faiupu, Hubert Barte, Paulo Maae, Harold Velicaria and Rogelio “Roger” Daquis – this week on 33 counts including conspiracy, mail theft and possession of stolen mail.
According to the indictment, the thefts spanned from March 2015 to April 2017 and included a total of $489,000 in goods and 343 computers. Most of the stolen computers mentioned were various models of Apple’s Macbook laptop, being sent to remote school districts.
The goods were allegedly stolen as they were being transported from the U.S. Postal Service processing center on Postmark Drive to Ravn’s cargo facility on Old International Airport Road. According to the indictment, Lepou and Faiupu were a ramp agent lead and trainer respectively with Ravn.
“Lepou and Faiupu used Ravn Alaska’s supervisor truck – intended for the transportation of mail from the U.S. Postal Service facility to Ravn’s airplanes for delivery to villages – to take articles stolen from the mail and drive them to the Ravn employee parking lot to load into their personal vehicles,” prosecutors wrote. “Lepou and Faiupu worked with the other defendants to find buyers for the articles stolen from the mail.”
A partial inventory of the thefts mentioned in the indictment include:
- Eight Macbooks headed for the Lower Yukon School District in Mountain Village, taken on or about Aug. 28, 2016. “Lepou sold these computers to Maae, Daquis, and Barte who sold most of the computers to other individuals,” prosecutors wrote.
- One Macbook headed for the Bering Strait School District in Unalakleet, taken on or about Sept. 8, 2016. “Barte sold the laptop to someone in Kodiak,” prosecutors wrote.
- Two Macbooks, en route to the Tukurngailnguq School in Stebbins and BSSD in Unalakleet, stolen on or about Oct. 13, 2016. “Lepou sold the laptops to Barte,” prosecutors wrote. “Barte kept both laptops.”
- Four iMac desktop computers sent to LYSD in Mountain Village, on or about Jan. 6, 2017. “Lepou sold two of the desktops to Barte and two of the desktops to Daquis,” prosecutors wrote.
The indictment mentions a total of 15 stolen Macs sent to Mountain Village, as well as seven sent to Unalakleet.
On or about April 13 last year, prosecutors said Lepou had two Mac Minis being sent to Unalakleet in his possession, in addition to “more than 667 cartons of cigarettes stolen from the mail and 305 cans of chewing tobacco stolen from the mail.” Along with eight prepaid cellphones, those goods’ total value was estimated at $109,000.
A Ravn Alaska statement sent Sunday said none of the people named in the indictment were still employed by the airline.
"When this matter came to our attention, we immediately cooperated with U.S. Post Office officials, assisted in their investigation, took prompt corrective action, and terminated the employment of the people involved," Ravn Alaska officials wrote.
Only one of the six defendants, Lepou, was listed in custody Saturday in a statewide inmate database; he is being held at the Anchorage Jail.
Ravn gave this statement to KTVA regarding the former employees:
"These individuals are no longer employed by our company. When this matter came to our attention, we immediately cooperated with U.S. Post Office officials, assisted in their investigation, took prompt corrective action, and terminated the employment of the people involved.”
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