NEWARK, NJ — A mail carrier from Hudson County with the U.S. Postal Service was arrested Wednesday for dumping 99 general election ballots sent from the County Board of Elections and intended to be delivered to West Orange residents, from his assigned routes in Orange and West Orange.
According to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, Nicholas Beauchene, 26, of Kearny has been charged with one count of delay, secretion or detention of mail and one count of obstruction of mail.
The post office and police department were notified of the discarded mail by Howard Dinger of Saddle Brook, who also posted a photo on his Facebook page of piles of rubber banded mail laying on the ground next to the North Arlington dumpster.
He commented above the photo, “Just found two to 300 lb of mail dumped in a dumpster behind one of the banks I service. Including at least 200 ballots,” “This is the kind of stuff you just can’t make up. And yes it was reported to the local police and the postal police.”
Some Facebook commenters accused Dinger of posting “fake news,” to which he replied, “Go jump in a lake.”
Dinger said he initially thought the piles of envelopes were junk mail, but then saw important documents like the ballots were in the stacks of mail as well.
Copies were made of all the mail for evidence, and U.S. Postal Service spokesperson George Flood reported that all the mail was back in the postal system being delivered to the proper recipients.
Beauchene appeared in front of Newark Federal Judge Cathy L. Waldor and was charged with “one count of delay, secretion or detention of mail and one count of obstruction of mail.” His bail was set at $25,000 with conditions.
In addition to the West Orange general election ballots, the mail included 627 pieces of first class mail, 873 pieces of standard class mail, two pieces of certified mail and 276 campaign flyers from West Orange Town Council candidates and the Board of Education. The ballots were sent from the Essex County Clerk's Office to registered voters.
Beauchene, who began working for the USPS in July, will face up to a maximum of five years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine (maximum) if convicted of mail delay. The obstruction of mail penalty can be a maximum of six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara F. Merin said that Beauchene gave a statement after being arrested on Wednesday allegedly admitting that he discarded the mail, but there is no evidence that his mail crime was motivated by political beliefs. He didn’t explain why he dumped the mail.
The mail in the West Orange dumpster was found several days after the North Arlington discarded mail.
Carpenito credited the USPS Office of Inspector General Special Agents, under the direction Matthew Modafferi, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Area Field Office, and the North Arlington Police Department for successfully handling the case and thanked them.
This article was prepared with information provided by the U.S. Attorney District of New Jersey.