Authorities: Convicted merchant bilks postal service of $14M
A Missouri City man who owned three mail presort companies has been convicted of fraud, including altering postage meter machines to produce counterfeit postage in mass mailings.
A federal jury on Tuesday convicted Neal Uy Lim, 50, of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, two counts of mail fraud and four counts of possession of counterfeit postage meter machines, United States Attorney José Moreno and U.S. Postal Inspector-in-Charge Gary Barksdale announced Wednesday.
Lim was indicted in June last year with five other people. The co-defendants have previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud.
The crimes were committed between 2003 and 2007, authorities said, at Lim's companies: Gulf Coast Presort at 1005 Ennis St. and Mail Processing Center at 10835 Seaboard Loop, both in Houston, and a satellite office at 5940 N. Sam Houston Parkway E. in Humble.
The businesses are third-party mailing agents and presort bureaus that profit from mass-mailing for clients, such as county offices, banks and other businesses, and receiving discounts from the post office for mail sorting.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents began monitoring Lim's company activities after the U.S. Postal Service discovered that the volume of mail processed by the postal service for Lim's businesses exceeded the amount of the prepaid postage available on the postage meter machines licensed to Lim.
The discrepancy continued over the four-year period, marked by the dropping in the amount of postage paid by Lim while the volume of mail processed remained steady, authorities found.
Meanwhile, Lim's businesses not only failed to pay the postal service after charging postage from clients, but also collected refunds for having presorted the illegally-metered mail.
The postal service lost at least $14 million, authorities said.
"The actual amount will be greater and will be determined by the court possibly in March in advance of the sentencing," said Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Herrera.
Barksdale described the jury's verdict as "a strong signal" to protect the country's postal service.
"Mailers in the U.S. enjoy some of the lowest-cost postage in the world, so we take fraud against the postal service very seriously," he said.
Lim faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, 20 years on the two counts of substantive mail fraud convictions, five years on each count of the possession of counterfeit postage meter machines, and fines of $250,000 for each count of conviction.
His sentencing is set for April 26.
Sentencing is also pending for the five co-defendants.
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