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Natural Bridge postmaster admits embezzling $20,000

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A Lowville woman admitted Wednesday in federal court that she embezzled more than $20,000 from the U.S. Postal Service while working as postmaster at Natural Bridge.

Erin Woolschlager, 35, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, to misappropriation of postal funds, a felony. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing Sept. 24.

According to court documents, Mrs. Woolschlager, a postal employee since 1999, admitted that in December 2009 she began using Postal Service money orders, for which she did not pay, for her personal use. She admitted cashing 105 money orders, totaling $14,372, without purchasing or processing them through the St. Louis Federal Reserve, in violation of federal code.

She admitted she used the funds to deposit into her personal checking account, make her car and mortgage payments, pay doctors’ bills and a utility bill, repay a loan from a cousin and to buy a $500 puppy, as well as to make other purchases. She also admitted stealing an additional $6,500 in postal funds, acknowledging that she owes the Postal Service $21,705.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the investigation of Mrs. Woolschlager began in March 2010 when special agents with the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General reviewed records and conducted an audit of the Natural Bridge Post Office as a result of numerous money orders being processed after the date they were cashed. According to court documents, Mrs. Woolschlager admitted she used money from the sale of postage stamps to customers to help repay the money orders for which she had not deposited funds.

She remains free awaiting sentencing after posting a $25,000 unsecured bond.

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