Fayette County

Two postal employees plead guilty to taking drugs intended for veterans

Two U.S. Postal Service employees have admitted to stealing packages with prescription pills intended for veterans living in Central and Eastern Kentucky, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.

Pamela J. Hawkins, 40, pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft of mail matter. James Carter, 40, pleaded guilty Monday to the same charge in a separate case, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey's office.

Carter admitted to stealing about 60 drug shipments, primarily of the painkiller hydrocodone, while working at the Postal Service's Lexington processing center. The medicine was being shipped to veterans in Lexington, Georgetown, Louisville, Morehead, Nicholasville, Danville, London, Corbin, Pikeville and Manchester.

Investigators watched Carter at work on Feb. 11, 2009, and they stopped him as he was about to leave work for the day. Drugs were found in his pockets, in a sock and in a vehicle, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Hawkins admitted to taking 10 to 11 drug shipments containing hydrocodone over 18 months. The medicine was being sent to Lawrenceburg veterans, according to the news release.

Carter is scheduled to be sentenced March 1 in Lexington. Hawkins is scheduled to be sentenced March 13 in Frankfort. Both face sentences of up to five years in prison.

Both drug investigations began after U.S. Postal Service customers complained about not receiving their prescriptions from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.