Foormer U.S. Postal Service worker Evelyn Price admitted she made a terrible mistake when she took about $500 in bribes in exchange for delivering packages she knew contained some kind of drugs on her Boca Raton mail delivery route.
But the otherwise exemplary life the Deerfield Beach woman led spared her from being sentenced to federal prison on Tuesday.
After listening to testimony about how Price, 54, had no prior arrests, how she mentored young people at two local churches for many years and how she once tried to save the life of a resident on her delivery route, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom ruled that sending Price to prison would be excessive punishment.
Instead, the judge sentenced her to one year of house arrest, five years of probation and ordered her to perform 500 hours of community service. Price had been facing a possible punishment of 12 to 18 months in prison.
The judge told Price she had betrayed the public trust that was placed in her as a federal employee but that her crime had been an aberration in an otherwise commendable life.
“If I could be the poster child for anything right now, it would be remorse,” Price told the judge, wiping away tears. “I’m sorry to everybody that was affected by my mistake. I am sorry. I am sorry.”
Several supporters, including her 91-year-old mother, wept as Price spoke.
Price’s attorney Assistant Federal Public Defender Tim Day told the judge that Price had never been in any kind of legal trouble during her 23-year career with the postal service. She won a “Golden Eagle” award in 1994 after she found a woman who had collapsed in the garage of a home on her delivery route and attempted to resuscitate her by performing CPR – the woman later died but her family were deeply grateful that Price tried so hard to save her life, records show.
Price’s pastor and several friends told the judge that she is one of two caregivers for her disabled mom and has mentored low-income and troubled children and teens at church groups for much of her life. She also volunteered at Deerfield Beach’s Mango Festival, which raised money to pay college fees for disadvantaged students. And Price also worked for the Deerfield Beach Community Development Agency, trying to find housing for low-income families, they said.
Price was fired from her mail carrier job one year ago after investigators from the postal inspection service discovered she was breaking the law. Price confessed immediately after she was confronted and officials said the packages contained marijuana.
Earlier this year, she pleaded guilty to one count of bribery of a public official. She admitted she accepted cash payments from a man she knew only as “Steve” over a period of about five months last year.
Her motive appeared to be making some extra cash on the side, according to testimony and court records. She testified that her postal service salary was about $800 per week before she was fired.
Price told investigators that “Steve” approached her in June 2016 and she agreed to provide him with addresses on her route where packages, that she could intercept, could be sent. The man called her on the morning the packages were due to arrive at the post office and arranged a meeting place for her to deliver them to him.
The man gave her $50 per package when she dropped them off to him, either at a local supermarket or veterinary office. She said she delivered one or two per month between June and Oct. 27, 2016 when she was caught.
“Steve” was never arrested – he called her that morning to cancel their meeting because “something was not right,” she told investigators. Investigators seized packages containing more than 20 pounds of marijuana that day, which were postmarked from California but bore return addresses in Florida and Brooklyn, N.Y.