Prosecution spotty, sentences vary in Nevada County mail theft cases |

Prosecution spotty, sentences vary in Nevada County mail theft cases

A lot of mail thefts reported to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office get referred back to the post office, because mail theft is a federal crime. A quick check of one month of reports seems to bear that out of nearly 46 calls to the Sheriff’s Office, only 10 reports were taken by the responding deputy.

Because the potential charges can vary so widely, it is difficult to determine how many mail thefts are prosecuted at the local level.

Three Nevada County residents — Shae Penkala, Haley Hobbs and Lukas Mathew — are currently being prosecuted in Placer County in an identity theft case that was traced back to mail stolen in Rough and Ready.

Joshua David Packard and Rena Marie Kain, who were arrested Jan. 11 by Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies after they were reportedly found with stolen mail, have not yet been charged.

Certainly, the potential sentence faced by a mail thief who is being prosecuted by the federal government is much greater than a defendant in the local court system.

In one Nevada County case, the suspect was charged with possessing stolen property and petty theft. He subsequently pleaded no contest to three counts of petty theft and was sentenced to 90 days and three years probation. Part of that sentence was suspended, but he subsequently violated probation and is currently serving a 90-day sentence. Another suspect pleaded no contest to forgery and was sentenced to 60 days in county jail, with three years probation.

That’s in stark contrast to the 14-year sentence handed down in federal court in 2014 to Jasen Lynn Dushane for possession of stolen U.S. mail, possession of stolen credit cards with intent to defraud and aggravated identity theft. Dushane had been found guilty of a crime spree that ended in a car chase involving a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy. In total, more than 1,000 pieces of stolen mail were recovered.

Last month, an Elk Grove woman was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison on federal charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, in a stolen mail scheme that involved more than 1,000 victims and 30 credit cards between October 2014 and February 2015.

U.S. Postal inspector Jeff Fitch said there were no current prosecutions involving Nevada County victims — but added there were several ongoing investigations.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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