Stacey Jepson, a former janitorial contractor at the Bayfield Post Office, was sentenced to five years of probation on Monday, June 8, after she pleaded guilty in February to one count of mail theft.
"I'm deeply, deeply sorry for everything I've done," Jepson told Chief Judge Marcia Krieger in U.S. District Court in Durango.
Krieger noted there were between 50 and 250 victims of Jepson's thefts. On Nov. 13, 2014, she was charged with three counts of obstruction of the mail and one count of mail theft. Sources close to the investigation said she was taking cash and gift cards from the mail in 2014.
Jepson could have been sentenced up to six months in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Norvell had originally requested that she serve 30 days in prison, but he reduced his request to two weeks because she has taken responsibility for her actions.
The two weeks prison time Norvell recommended was "appropriate," he told the judge, and shows that the U.S. Postal Service "will take these cases seriously."
Robert Pepin, a U.S. public defender from Denver, said Jepson had no prior criminal history, other than two convictions of driving under the influence from 1988 and 1989, and she underwent "public humiliation" in her small town after the plea was covered in the newspaper.
"She is working and trying to get her name back," Pepin said.
In her statement to Judge Krieger, Jepson said her actions were out of character for her.
"I never raised my kids like this," she said.
"What happened here?" Krieger asked.
Jepson said she had been pregnant and had a life-threatening miscarriage, requiring emergency surgery. Her husband broke his ankle and had been unable to work for several months.
"It was a chaotic time in my life," she said. Usually, she works three or four jobs to help support her family. "My whole world just collapsed."
"Why did you steal?" Krieger asked.
"I don't know why," Jepson said. "I was depressed. I couldn't function. I couldn't work. I couldn't think."
Jepson said she's been going to monthly counseling sessions for the past year and a half, and it "has been my savior."
She said she's learning the skills to handle her problems better.
Krieger said Jepson appeared to show remorse for the theft, but added that she did not appear to have "a great deal of introspection" about the reasons behind her actions.
"Life deals bad cards," Krieger said, adding that the measure of our character is how we handle circumstances when things are going badly.
Two weeks of prison time wouldn't help the situation, Krieger said.
In addition to probation and a felony record, Krieger said Jepson must undergo mental health treatment "as long as the provider thinks it is necessary."
Krieger said the terms of probation include no federal, state or local criminal activity, no firearms, and no controlled substances, including marijuana or medical marijuana.
Jepson could have faced a fine of up to $10,000, but Krieger said she would not impose one because Jepson lacked the ability to pay it. She does have to pay a court-mandated fee of $100.
As one of the conditions of her plea agreement, Jepson can appeal the sentence within 14 days.