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Former Lawtons postmaster pleads guilty to charges

EDEN — United States Attorney William Hochul Jr. announced that Michael Kozina, 57, of Eden pleaded guilty to misappropriation of postal funds by a postal service employee.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.

The plea was placed before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Ippolito Jr., who handled the case, said that Kozina was employed as postmaster at the Lawtons Post Office, between April 2, 2005 and July 31, 2012.

As the postmaster, the defendant accepted cash payments from more than 12 United States Postal Service customers for the purchase of money orders. Instead of depositing the cash payments into the USPS register, Kozina kept a portion of the cash for his own purposes. The defendant then falsified USPS records, to make it appear that customers purchased money orders in an amount which was less than what was actually paid.

As a result, losses to the USPS totaled $13,761. Kozina also stole $13,585 in post office box rental payments, between Jan. 1, 2009 and July 31, 2012.

“As the past public corruption cases brought by this office demonstrate, no person is above the law,” Hochul said. “As head of a post office branch, this defendant served in a position of trust, to both the government and the public. This office will not permit a representative or employee of any level of government to misuse their position for personal gain.”

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of special agents of the United States Postal Service, office of inspector general, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge Robert Lapina.

Sentencing will be scheduled before Chief U.S. District Court Judge William Skretny.

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