Jerry Tyrone Harris heard loud voices in his head, suffered schizophrenia, dropped out of high school, endured bouts of paranoia, clawed his face until it bled, banged his head on walls to quiet the voices, occasionally wanted to kill himself, convinced a dentist to remove all his teeth because he didn't like them, fathered eight children with multiple women, smoked marijuana daily, collected criminal convictions and became a winning job applicant at a U.S. Post Office in Los Angeles.
In March, employees at the Hollywood Post Office discovered someone had been rifling through the mail before it arrived from the Postal Services' Los Angeles Processing & Distribution Center (LAPDC), which happened to be where Harris worked the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift as a mail sorter.
Special agents with the Postal Service and the Office of Inspector General conducted surveillance at the LAPDC stall designated to sort mail for Hollywood zip codes and observed Harris blatantly opening mail and placing items in his clothing.
When the agents approached Harris with an arrest warrant they found he'd concealed an XBOX 360 Wireless Bluetooth headset, a box with a new LG cell phone and another box with an Android phone.
In an interview with investigators, Harris--who was born in 1971 and grew up in a gang-infested LA neighborhood--admitted he'd been stealing mail for at least six weeks and mostly targeted shipped cell phones because he knew a man who'd pay him $150 each for the stolen items.
Investigators managed to find 47 victims.
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U.S. Probation officials are recommending a prison term of 10 to 16 months for the embezzlement. A federal prosecutor noted Harris signed a pre-trial guilty plea and so she is advocating a punishment of six months. The thief thinks he deserves probation because he says he's remorseful and is a good father to all his children, who need his financial contributions to their lives.
Josephine Staton Tucker, the U.S. District Court judge handling the case inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, is scheduled to determine Harris' punishment today.