A couple from Starke caught with mail stolen from five counties has been sentenced to federal prison for mail theft.
Connor Lee Austin, 31, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. That sentence will run consecutive to Austin’s current sentence of three years in Florida State Prison for grand theft, grand theft from a dwelling and burglary
Austin’s co-defendant, Maranda Ann Stewart, 26, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for her role in the mail theft.
Stewart pleaded guilty on June 27 and Austin pleaded guilty on July 12.
They are both ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the case.
According to court documents and public records, in late April 2022, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office received multiple reports of mail being stolen from mailboxes in the Keystone Heights area.
Surveillance footage from homes in that area captured a truck with two people inside driving down roads and stealing mail from mailboxes. Law enforcement later identified the driver as Stewart and the passenger as Austin.
On May 6, 2022, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office arrested Austin and Stewart for their involvement with a fraudulent check. During the arrest, the BCSO searched Stewart and Austin’s truck and found more than 100 pieces of mail that had been stolen from various addresses in Clay County.
The United States Postal Inspection Service – Jacksonville Office and the CCSO investigated and learned that after stealing mail, Austin and Stewart used Austin’s phone to try to deposit stolen checks into their bank accounts through mobile deposit.
They also forged signatures on checks stolen from the mail so they could cash them.
Law enforcement recovered mail stolen by Austin and Stewart from Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, and Putnam counties.