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Going postal: U.S. Postal Service investigators have been busy in Maryland

October 9, 2013
By

Save Your Post OfficeAs the Sun’s Justin Fenton reported yesterday, the managers of two U.S. post offices in Waverly and Pikesville have been charged in a bribery-and-kickback scheme in which they are accused of sharing in the proceeds of fraudulent or inflated invoices submitted by janitorial and landscaping contractors.

The case resulted from a joint investigation of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Agents developed the case with the help of a confidential source (CS), a landscaper who allegedly had been involved in the scheme and, in exchange for possible leniency, agreed to make controlled bribery payments to the two managers, according to court documents.

The probe uncovered an alleged scheme stretching back to 2007, when one of the defendants – Richard Lewis Wright, III – became manager of the Waverly office. When another defendant, Kimberly Parnell, became manager of the Pikesville office in 2010, she allegedly joined in. Two other defendants are post-office contractors who allegedly participated through their companies: Ladena Sketers-Anderson of Keep U Clean Janitorial Service and Shane Anderson of Youthful Minds Lawn Care.

Court documents say the scheme diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in postal-service funds, and thus its impact the agency’s ledger sheet would be infinitesimal, given that the USPS loses billions of dollars per year. Yet, since a three-penny jump is currently contemplated for the existing 46-cent cost of a one-ounce letter stamp – a price that has jumped a nickel since 2007 – this beleaguered agency, whose fortunes have soured significantly in the Internet age, is in dire need of cleansing its operations of waste, fraud, and abuse.

Other recent postal-service investigations in Maryland suggest its law enforcers have been active. The U.S. Postal Inspections Service (USPIS), for instance, has been industriously intercepting suspicious packages at the Incoming Mail Facility in Linthicum, some of which contain cash that the government often gets to keep by simply asserting, based on scant evidence, that it’s proceeds of drug trafficking.

More significant, perhaps, is the USPIS probe of Trojan Horse Ltd., a Jessup-based company that trucks U.S. mail and in 2011 pulled in nearly $20 million from USPS contracts, making it the 66th biggest agency contractor that year. To put this in perspective, FedEx Corporation topped the list, with about $1.5 billion in contracts.

Trojan Horse’s owner, Brian Hicks, and his father, Hal Hicks, since 2011 have been in the crosshairs of USPIS and U.S. Department of Labor law enforcers on suspicion of stealing retirement money withheld from the paychecks of the company’s workers, according to court documents. Agents recently raided Trojan Horse properties and seized Brian Hicks’ email account, all in an effort to prove agents’ suspicions of the scheme – though no public criminal charges have been filed.

The Trojan Horse investigation has been aided by truckers who say their retirement funds have been shorted and by Brian Hicks’ financial adviser, who noted that Hicks stopped making payments into his workers 401(k) accounts. Agents believe that Brian Hicks “has diverted the funds from the Postal Service contracts to grow his other businesses, such as Glen Burnie Hauling, Capital Expressways, Inc., and BDH Logistics, Inc.,” court documents say.

While the suspected retirement-fund raiding at Trojan Horse is, if true, a shameful case of breaking fiduciary trust with employees, and the seizure of suspicious packages is a growing government cash-cow, the evidence against the post-office managers and their contractors has the flavor of old-fashioned Mobtown street culture.

Court documents show the Waverly manager, Wright, for example, in text- and voice-messages to the CS contractor, getting hot and bothered over the CS’ failure to share the scheme’s proceeds in a timely fashion (Wright’s quotes are transcribed verbatim from the court documents, misspellings and all):

“Yo bra u need to text or call me cause I need to get my loot! … U always be screwing me up with ur bs! I need my loot! … Why don’t u just leave a check and I can cash tomorrow! Don’t bs me man! Need my loot and Kim too! Call u and texted no answer! Ur business is bout to be cut off bra. … You burning bridges like a mafucka, bra. Put my money in my account today man. I don’t have time to keep waiting on you to get around to it, put my money in there. You got your money, I need to get my loot man. I don’t mow what your problem is, but I need to get my cash man, real talk.”

Eventually, Wright assumes a threatening tone, telling the CS that he’s “tired playing games witch you. So, like I say, I expect to hear from you today. If not, no problem I know where you at I come and find you,” the court documents state. This may have been disconcerting for the CS, since court documents allege that Wright is also a drug dealer and registered owner of a 9mm gun that he’s quick to load – though Wright has not been charged for violating drug or gun laws.

Community & Postal Workers United, a postal-workers’ protest group organized since 2012 to “fight Privatization and the decrease in customer service” at USPS, according to its website, has a saying: “Are we going to let greed & corruption destroy the Post Office? ? ? ….. NOOO! ! !” Looks like law enforcers have been doing their part to heed this call in Maryland.

  • Steven l white

    I gave the labor department all the factual evidence to prove that Trojan horse ltd.aka Brian hicks was stealing my retirement money over 14 months ago-they supposedly are investigating,but it appears they are dragging their feet as much as possible.No charges are being filed even though this company has stolen probably 2 or 3 million dollars from us former employees collectively.The labor dept is doing a lousy job-if it were their relatives whose money was stolen maybe it would make a difference.It appears as mr.Hicks has gotten a well connected attorney and it looks like he will walk away rich and unscathed,while us former employees,get screwed not only by him,but also by the labor dept.,who supposedly are supposed to protect us and by the courts,who seem to be giving this crook every advantage.He should be in jail-NOW!

  • Steven l white

    Law enforcement is doing nothing or next to nothing and apparently could care less about the approximately 300 plus drivers whose retirement money was stolen by this company-the postal service investigators are no better than the labor dept. investigators.They both are responsible for not acting on information delivered to them-I know this because I delivered the information to both of these agencies.Please note-I post with my real name-not a hide behind Internet name

  • Dondi Stephens

    Brain Hicks has many trucks that he hauls with under Glen Burnie hauling, that he is hiding and refuses to pay for that his lien holder has been working for several years to recover. Any information would be greatly appreciated. stephensnstephens@hotmail.com

  • JOHN DEUTSCH

    If u need proof,i have it.814-594-82806

  • Mark

    I worked out of Fremont Indiana area. I found out Royale Ledbetter the head of Post Office for trucking transportation has been fired by Post Office after OIG investigation on Trojan Horse. I have heard the Post Office really did owe Mr. Hicks the money for extra trips over 1.5 million dollars. They are now trying to settle with him over his lawsuit and DOL will get money owed employees. Found this out though a good source.

  • Mark

    Steven

    I found out Mr. Hicks really was owed millions by the Post Office. He maintained all along they were not paying him for work performed which started in 2012. The reason he is not in jail is because OIG investigated the case and found out he was owed over 1.5 million in extra trip monies. He is working on a settlement so the employees can get paid. DOL says the amount is around 1 million dollars according to my source. Did you get another job?

  • Mark

    Steve,

    They are doing something OIG escorted Royale Ledbetter off the property but they can’t make the Post Office pay Mr. Hicks all in courts unless they settle which might happen soon.

  • Mark

    Mr. White how many paychecks does he owe you? I might be able to help.

  • Steven l white

    I received all my paychecks after going through the labor dept. in Md. I am still owed between 15,000.00-17,000.00 for what was deducted from my paychecks but never deposited to my 401k account.I was fortunate and found another mail hauling job with a legitimate company 3 weeks after being stranded 500 miles from home when Trojan Horse went belly up.Thank you for sharing the information you have-I hope you are correct sir;That money was intended to help purchase a modest home when I retire. Once again-Thank you,sincerely, Steven L White

  • Mark

    Glad you got your paychecks and another job. Mr. Hicks never intended for any of this to happen. I worked close with him and he showed me the money he was owed and all the corrupt things the Post Office was doing. Stay tuned he is working on getting your 401 K money. He went to Department of Labor himself to try and get the money from PO. They turned it over to OIG who investigated and walked Mrs. Ledbetter off the property. I understand the Post Office is in a world of shit over this and they are going to owe Mr. Hicks millions.

  • Mark

    Steve Mr. Hicks is far from a crook. Royale Ledbetter and her crew are the crooks. He showed me in 2012 how she took $200K away from his money saying he didn’t run extra trips. She asked for proof and he provided the Loadtrek logs showing trips were done during Xmas season 2011 but she refused to accept the Loadtrek info because it was not a Postal document. Once he hired a lawyer they did everything they could to put him out of business. Don’t believe me check for yourself on Royale Ledbetter.

  • Mark

    Dondi,

    Mr. Hicks is out of business and not hiding the trucks. Many of the trucks have been hide by drivers and a lot of the trucks are in a impound lot in New Jersey because of a dispute with rent owed. The owner of the impound lot is Billy Matus. Phone numbers 732-948-0050 or 201-246-1182. He is a crook and may have already shipped the trucks oversees. He is a repo guy and does this a lot with cars and trucks. Puts them in containers in yard gets so no one can find them.

    Goodluck!!!

  • Mark

    Steve,

    Who do you work for now I’m looking for another job?

  • Bruce

    then he should of be up front with this info ,instead of leaving everyone in the dark and not being honest with his employees, most would’ve understood and probably helped him.

  • Marshall Wise

    I was sent a link to this article months ago and then yesterday about the posts from “Mark” — it is supposed to be Mark, the guy in charge of freight out in Fremont who worked for Brian. It isn’t. Brian stiffed him too. What this is, we (former employees) believe, is Brian and his wife posting as someone else. I’d sure like to see what the IP address of “Mark” posting here is.

    I posted this elsewhere (in an ex-employee support group):
    >>
    It’s all well and good to say this, but Brian owed them (the USPS) a LOT of money
    for fuel, as he was using Voyager cards (Postal Fuel System) for hauling freight and was
    already OVER his gallons for the year (2013) by 30 April.

    I asked some other people in the Postal contracting business
    about Royale Ledbetter when Brian texted me (pretending to be his wife)
    and told me about it. Royale got relieved because she allowed a NUMBER of
    contractors to get in trouble in the same way as Brian Hicks had done. The PO has gotten tired of people
    like the Hickses using the Voyager program as a revolving credit
    account. From what I was told, there were a number of Postal employees relieved from their job over this.

    Here’s the thing, he (Brian Hicks) kept telling me he’d be getting $6M from his lawsuit with the USPS… and
    maybe he will, but he owes something like $2M to the 401k’s (according
    to the DOL lady I talked to). He has (had) and a $2.9M lien with the IRS
    last year or so — easily check on the Internet. If you look at the Maryland courts website, you can see there are anumber of lawsuits filed form creditors such as AmEx and GE Captal that he owes to.
    <<

    As far as trucks go, not counting the ones that former employees are holding, there are a number that are just missing. They are being hidden somewhere. as Brian thinks he will be starting up again. The guy in NJ that is referenced… Brian LEFT the trucks in his yard for 2+ months after shutting down and was still hauling freight out of there. He could have/should have went and got them but he didn't.

    The amount of financial pain and hardship he has caused his former employees is staggering. And, he thinks he has "done nothing wrong", as he stated in an email to me. Yes, he used to be a friend, but he stole my 401k money too, not depositing my withheld money for 61/2 quarters and, not paying the 401k loan payments deducted from my check for a few months, not the voluntary contributions I had set to come out — deducted, mind you, but never paid. As I told him, I am sorry, but theft and mis-use of pension funds is a felony. Can we say embezzlement!?

    Not counting his creditors, there are a couple lawsuits filed about this and former office people who had nothing to do with taking the money have been forced to hire an attorney and spend THOUSANDS to defend themselves. If he told them to do something and they didn't, everyone knew what would happen… you'd be FIRED. Working for the Hicks family was a lot like working for Adolf Hitler… very erratic and capricious.

    And, as John Deutsch says on here, he DOES have proof. Brian had his criminal father, a multiple-time convicted FELON who was on the Postal disbarred list working for him in NJ, hiring and firing people, even though expressly FORBIDDEN by the U.S. Government from doing this. And yes, this proof also consists of recordings. The father, Hal Hicks, was also involved with other mail companies, one which was taken form him by his partner for embezzlement and another, set up in his daughter's name, that failed in 2008. This guy is the catalyst for the failure of Trojan Horse, GBH/Capital Expressways. And again, this is all documentable.

  • Mark

    He tried but no one believed a word he said. Then lawyers told him to keep quiet until his case comes around.

  • Mark

    Mr. Wise is a prime example Bruce, on why Mr. Hicks has not tried to explain his case. Mr. Wise used to be good friends with Mr. Hicks and Mr. Hicks told me he would have not been in the mail business if not for Mr. Wise. Mr. Hicks also let me know he even shared letters of the abuse from Royale Leddbetter and her crew to Mr. Wise. He showed me one letter he sent Mr. Wise in 2012 when he started having issues. Mrs. Leddbetter and her crew took $200K out of his pay for trips she claimed he didn’t run without even giving him warning. He hired a lawyer for this and after that they did everything they could to put him out of business. He tried to reason with Royale but she refused to give him money back even after he provided proof the trips were ran on his Loadtrek system. On the money Mr. Wise claims Mr. Hicks owes. Mr. Hicks has told me his businesses went from over 30 million in revenue to zero overnight because of the post office. Anyone who went from 30 million in annual income to zero overnight because of the Post Office not paying over a million dollars for extra trips and other monies would owe money. Mr. Wise likes to blame Mr. Hick’s Dad and the past on what happen. Mr. Hicks has told me his dad was not a owner of the company and had zero to do with the business failing. Mr. Wise is hurt because he liked his job and made good money. Mr. Hicks said he averaged around $70K a year and was even able to buy a house after years of trying.

    On Mr. Wise’s claim that Mr. Hicks owes money for fuel is false. He does not owe money for fuel the Post Office owes him millions.

    On Mr. Wise’s claims Mr. Hicks intentionally went out of business to embezzle money is simply not true. Mr. Hicks sold everything he had so employees could get paid before anyone else. Mr. Wise received all of his paychecks but I’m sure he will deny this as well.

    Mr. Wise is also going around saying Mr. Hicks has been arrested and will be going to jail a long time. This is not true Mr. Hicks has not been arrested for this or any other crime. As Mr. Wise knows anyone can look this up on the internet and see Mr. Hicks has not been arrested. Mr. Hicks said the District Attorney in Baltimore told his attorney the Post Office is one of the most corrupt agencies in government. They raided Mr. Hicks office and email accounts and of course found no embezzlement and the letters to Royalle begging her to pay him for the work preformed.

    I asked Mr. Hicks why Royalle would do such a thing to him and his companies. He explained he fired one of his employees and he did everything he could with his connections to get Royalle to force him out. Mr. Hicks kept two of his relatives working for him and one went to OIG to testify. Of course OIG found out the real truth after going though Mr. Hicks computer and emails. (This will all come out in court including the emails from Royalle to Mr. Hick’s ex employee) This is not Mr. Hicks wife. I’m just a friend of the Hicks and know a lot because we still talk on a every other day basis.

    I can also assure you Mr. Hicks is not living like a king. He is working hard with the lawyers to get people paid and plans on putting a full page add in Baltimore Sun once this is all over. It has been a bad nightmare for him but he is getting closer to his court dates.

    Mr. Wise likes to bash people besides Mr. Hicks. Mr. Wise is a person according to Mr. Hicks he has tried to help. Mr. Hicks advised Mr. Wise to stop using dead peoples SS# to scam people such as hospitals and electric companies. Mr. Wise likes to claim he is out for the people by bashing Mr. Hicks but this is far from the case.

    I hope this clears some things up. Also Mr. Wise might want to look on net for contractors that owe money to IRS. He works for one now.

  • Mark

    Bruce please see the response to Mr. Wises post.

    I hope this clears some things up for you!!!

  • Mark

    I forgot to add John Deutsch in this discussion. According to Mr. Hicks he believes Mr. Deutsch has some of the trucks that are missing. Also Mr. Deutsch has a lot a room to talk about criminal actions. He owes the IRS lots of money and even asked Mr. Hicks to change his payroll from Trojan Horse to Capitol Expressways to avoid a garnishment by the IRS. As Mr. Wise likes to say look up Mr. Deutsh on the internet and you will see this to be true.

  • wife

    So “Mark” if Mr Hicks sold everything he had to ensure his employees got their paychecks; why has my husband still not gotten a paycheck for the last month he worked for him?

  • Mark

    According to Mr. Hicks the Dept. of Labor put a $1,070,000 hold on his money with the Post Office. He has been fighting to have the money release but Johnny Lott the contracting office refuses and handed it over to the Post Office lawyers. Mr. Hicks is going to court now to get the money it has taken this long for him to even get a court date. Mr. Wise has all of these wild claims but I have seen the hold its not for over 2 million as he has stated.

  • wife

    Ok, but you said above that he sold everything so people could get paid. The fight with the post office was for the 401k money, right? That’s what you said above. So excuse me if I am having a hard time believing this, but the fact of the matter is that my husband worked for this company and for the last month he was there, he did not get paid. That is theft. Money taken from my family. There is no excuse.

  • Mark

    Bruce another example why Mr. Hicks does not try to explain. All I can tell you Post Office has the employees money and won’t release to the DOL. I have asked Mr. Hicks why he don’t try to get out his story and now I see why. After talking with him about Mr. Wise and his post he says it just makes him sick. According to him the guy he is working for now is under investigation for all the favors Royalle Leddbetter gave him until she was walked of by OIG. Mr. Hicks also to me Mr. Wise stated this guy has had many affairs and even used company money to pay off a old employee that used black mail or she would tell his wife. Also Mr. Wise was fired by his current employer about 10 years ago according to Mr. Hicks. Hang in Bruce Mr. Hicks is doing all he can to put Royalle Leddbetter away and get your money.

  • Mark

    I asked Mr. Hicks about 401K money and he said people were paid up until the last quarter. What is your name I can ask him about your husbands case.