PITTSBURGH (AP) – The city’s postmaster has been charged with threatening to retaliate against employees if they reported seeing him opening express mail parcels and removing the illegal drugs they contained.
Employees told a customer service manager that Pittsburgh Postmaster Daniel Davis was opening packages, taking out drugs and resealing the packages, according to five criminal complaints filed by the Allegheny County district attorney’s office. Davis told workers to be on the lookout for parcels from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington state, the complaints said.
When the manager asked why, Davis replied, “Where I came from, this is what we do,” according to the complaints.
Davis, of Canonsburg, is charged with intimidating witnesses and official oppression. He transferred to Pittsburgh from Toledo, Ohio, and was appointed acting postmaster in February 2014. He became the permanent postmaster in August 2014.
According to the criminal complaints, David also told employees not to speak with investigators. He described himself to one as “ruthless” and said, “I will kill you,” the complaints said.
Davis is not charged with stealing the drugs, which prosecutors say included cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Any drug charges related to the case would fall under federal jurisdiction, said Mike Manko, spokesman for the district attorney.
Davis’ attorney, Joseph Chester, declined to comment Wednesday. Phone calls by The Associated Press to numbers that may belong to Davis weren’t answered.
According to the criminal complaints, a U.S. Postal Inspector obtained a search warrant in the investigation. A spokesman for Pittsburgh’s U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General said he couldn’t comment on the investigation or on Davis’ employment status.
As postmaster, Davis supervised more than 40 Pittsburgh-area post offices and had run-ins with underlings at various locations he supervised when he would visit and open the packages, the complaints said.
One worker told investigators that Davis “made it seem like what he was doing was the right thing by getting drugs off the street,” the complaints said.
The employee didn’t question Davis’ motives because of his “power,” the complaints said. But, according to the complaints, Davis is not empowered under federal law to intercept and open packages or remove their contents, which were often packaged in coffee grounds.
Drug smugglers commonly package drugs in coffee to throw off drug-sniffing dogs. They also often use fictitious mailing or return addresses.
The workers told investigators that Davis would search Google to determine whether the mailing address or return address was fictitious before opening the packages, according to the complaints.
This story has been corrected to make the postmaster’s surname on second reference Davis, not David.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)