SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Three Sacramento Airport contractors will skirt prison time after admitting in federal court to working together to steal mail from planes.
Raymond Su, Joshua Hopoi, and Domingo Ene have all been sentenced to time served following convictions on charges of possession of stolen mail and conspiracy. Ene, the final defendant to be sentenced in the case, learned he would not see the inside of a federal prison cell late last month.
All three men were released from custody on bond after spending three days in the Sacramento County Main Jail.
For at least three months in 2018, according to court papers, the three men used their positions as Envoy contractors at the Sacramento International Airport to rifle through mail and luggage, stealing parcels that contained cash, cards, and even a gun.
After bringing mail from arriving flights to the airport’s post office, where they were supposed to leave it, the three men instead began rifling through the mail for greeting card envelopes in hopes to find gift cards and cash. The men would set up carts and postal service containers in strategic locations in an attempt to obstruct surveillance cameras from seeing what they were doing. Su, on several occasions, hid mail in a spare uniform shirt and shoved envelopes down his pants.
The men worked together to split up the stolen cash and cards they got from the mail, mostly working in teams of two and bringing their proceeds home hidden in bags, backpacks, and work vests. Hopoi and Su also stashed some of the items in their work lockers in between shifts. Investigators found text messages between Su and eight others discussing the sale of some of the stolen cards. Su told his contacts that the cards were “not legitimate” and 30% off because they were stolen material.
One day, after Su and Hopoi’s shifts were over, investigators followed the men to their homes and went through their trash bins on the curb. Inside, hundreds of opened envelopes were found, some with checks left inside for amounts in excess of $1000. Ene, who has been pegged by the feds as the ringleader of the group, was seen on surveillance video at several retail stores making purchases with stolen gift cards. Six gift cards were later found at his house.
On one occasion, according to his plea agreement, Ene stole a loaded gun that was checked in with TSA in Sacramento. The gun, a Springfield XD 9mm Pistol, was mysteriously missing from its case when the luggage landed in Ohio. The gun was later found in Ene’s house, and he admitted to stealing the weapon in an apology letter addressed to law enforcement.
In arguing for a federal judge to sentence him to time served, lawyers for Ene pointed to his history of nonviolence and a pattern of convictions involving stolen mail that carried similar sentences. One of the convictions was that of Daron Tarver, a Postal Inspector who worked Ene’s case.
Tarver was sentenced to three months after pleading to one count of theft of mail by a postal employee. He admitted in court to directing a love interest to pull envelopes and lying about it, claiming he was looking to confiscate drugs.
“Mr. Ene takes great pride in caring for his loved ones and is trying to be a better man every day,” a sentencing memorandum filed by Tasha Paris Chalfant reads.
Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, said Ene abused his job at Envoy to steal things from flyers and kept the gun in a shoebox in his closet – where his three young children could’ve gotten ahold of it. They said he, on one occasion, stole marijuana from a bag and used a stolen gift card to buy a necklace off of Amazon.
Assistant US Attorney Miriam Hinman, citing a sealed presentencing report, said two grandparents wrote that their sensitive 5-year-old grandson was brought to tears by the thought that his grandparents forgot about his birthday after his card was stolen.
“He will not soon forget his fifth birthday memory, or the feeling that his own grandparents did not think of him on his birthday,” part of the statement said.