A U.S. postal worker who stole mail from Peninsula residents to obtain credit cards for use by himself and friends — and who was discovered with more than 3,000 undelivered pieces at his home — pleaded no contest to three felonies.
Romeo Maniulit Natan, 38, settled his case on charges of identity theft, commercial burglary and credit card fraud. Although other counts were dismissed as part of the plea deal, they can be considered for sentencing purposes at a Feb. 21 hearing.
He faces up to three years in prison which is "reasonable” considering his lack of criminal record, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Most of the thefts linked to the San Bruno man occurred in the Devonshire Avenue area of San Carlos. Natan was fingered as the culprit after being caught on a surveillance video at the Target store in Colma using stolen cards and an alleged accomplice caught using a different stolen card implicated him as the source. Natan reportedly distributed the stolen cards from several people including three men who were also charged.
A Daly City police search of Natan 's San Bruno home reportedly turned up bags of undelivered mail, including more than 2,000 pieces in a storage closet and more than 1,000 pieces in the trunk of his car.
Natan remains in custody in lieu of $150,000 bail pending his sentencing hearing.
Defense attorney Mike Hroziencik did not return a call for comment.
Meanwhile, the other men arrested are also working their way through the court system. Edgar Suing Guinto, 41, pleaded no contest to commercial burglary and identity theft. He will receive no prison and up to a year in the county jail when sentenced Jan. 31. Marlo Tubig Lacsamana, 41, and Joel Pineda Lugtu, 31, are also similarly charged.
Lacsamana and Lugtu are in custody in lieu of $150,000. Guinto is held on $100,000 bail.
The case's publicity also helped conclude a different case — that of the mystery telegram.
Shortly after Natan and the others were charged, a Daly City police detective wading through the purloined mail found a 1938 Western Union telegram from Reno, Nev. that read, "Arrived safely, no snow but real cold nice trip be back Monday Merry Xmas to all. Minnie & Fred.”
Senior detective Joe Bocci asked the media and public for help and by the next morning learned the 74-year-old piece of mail had been sent to a San Carlos resident — the daughter of Minnie and Fred — from a cousin but it had never arrived. The family has since been reunited with that piece of mail.
Michelle Durand can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.