Ex-postal worker: didn't know about theft charge

November 10, 2011 - 8:50 PM

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa postal worker acknowledged Thursday that he was caught stealing customer rebate checks from the mail but said federal authorities never notified him that he had been indicted for doing so. The man's defense attorney said notice of the criminal charge may have been lost in the mail.

Glenn A. Reisinger of Norwalk told The Associated Press in a phone interview he was caught on tape taking customer rebate checks issued by retailer Menard Inc. that were being returned to the company after they were mailed to bad customer addresses. He said he saw no harm in doing so at the time because the customers could not be located, but now realizes it was "a mistake, of course."

Reisinger, 62, said he was a clerk at a postal station in West Des Moines and he retired under pressure in June after he was caught. He had worked for the postal service for 29 years.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment Oct. 26 charging Reisinger with one count of theft by a postal employee, which carries maximum penalties of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. It alleges he stole five checks totaling $577 — ranging in size from $14 to $330 — between March and June.

Reisinger said Thursday morning he didn't know about the indictment or that his arraignment and initial appearance were scheduled for hours later at the federal courthouse in Des Moines. He said he learned about the indictment when the AP called to ask for comment about the case. "Nobody has said anything to me about it," he said.

Employees in the U.S. District Court clerk's office in Des Moines said a summons ordering Reisinger to appear in court Thursday was issued Oct. 26 — and mistakenly dated Sept. 26 — but nothing in their records indicated whether the document was actually delivered to him.

Reisinger's attorney, Timothy McCarthy said he was told by the office of Magistrate Judge Celeste Bremer that the summons was sent by mail to Reisinger. McCarthy said it would have been terrible if federal authorities had arrested and jailed his client for not showing up for Thursday's appearance "and we would have explained that he didn't get" the summons because of a mail mix-up.

Kevin VanderSchel, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said Thursday morning he would look into the matter but then then later declined to provide an explanation. The U.S. Marshals Service, which often serves summons, did not return a phone message.

McCarthy was stunned by news of the charge against his client. McCarthy said he contacted the office of Bremer, who agreed to delay the arraignment from 2 p.m. until 3:15 p.m. so the attorney could attend.

"We hadn't heard one word," McCarthy said. "That's crazy."

Reisinger pleaded not guilty at the hearing. Trial was scheduled for Jan. 3.

Postal spokesman Richard Watkins confirmed that Reisinger submitted his retirement papers after being interviewed by an agent with its Office of Inspector General.