Monday, August 2, 2010 at 11:55 a.m.
Have you ever wondered about missing mail--say a birthday card from your favorite, wealthy aunt in Texas?
Let's hope that Southern California postal delivery man Henry Lee Monday didn't serve your neighborhood.
Monday liked to open mail containing cash, pocket the dough and trash the letter.
Sadly, there's nothing new about occasional revelations against dishonest mailmen. But Monday, who was caught, isn't arguing that he didn't open a letter and steal the cash. He says his conviction should be overturned on a technicality.
According to court records, here are the facts of the case: Postal inspectors suspected Monday was a crook and sent a test letter containing a birthday and $40 cash. After taking the bait, the mailman used the money to purchase snacks at a liquor store. He was arrested and convicted on federal mail theft charges.
But Monday filed an appeal claiming that he "knew the letter was a plant," but opened it anyway "because he had a lot of things on [his] mind that [he] figured at that time they would come and arrest [him] or do what they had to do so [he] could talk to them."
Monday was apparently attempting to say that he didn't have the necessary criminal intent to "permanently deprive the owner of the money."
In other words, because the letter and cash were part of a law enforcement sting operation, there was no real owner who was deprived of anything, according to Monday.
Would it work?
A three-justice panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered his argument and today issued an opinion that supported a contention by federal prosecutors based in Riverside County that they merely needed to prove that he opened the letter and took the money.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly