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Starke couple sentenced to prison for stealing mail in Keystone Heights

Posted 10/19/23

JACKSONVILLE – U.S. District Judge Maria M. Howard has sentenced Connor Lee Austin, 31, to 18 months in federal prison for theft of mail. His term of imprisonment will run consecutive to his current sentence of 36 months in Florida State Prison. Austin’s co-defendant, Maranda Ann Stewart, 26, also from Starke, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for theft of mail. The court ordered the pair to pay restitution to the victims in the case.

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Starke couple sentenced to prison for stealing mail in Keystone Heights


Posted

JACKSONVILLE – U.S. District Judge Maria M. Howard has sentenced Connor Lee Austin, 31, to 18 months in federal prison for theft of mail. His term of imprisonment will run consecutive to his current sentence of 36 months in Florida State Prison. Austin’s co-defendant, Maranda Ann Stewart, 26, also from Starke, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for theft of mail. The court ordered the pair to pay restitution to the victims in the case.

Stewart had pleaded guilty on June 27, and Austin had pleaded guilty on July 12.   

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 containing two individuals driving down roads and stealing mail from mailboxes.

Law enforcement subsequently identified the driver as Stewart and Austin as the passenger. 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 conducted an inventory search of the truck used by Stewart and Austin and located more than 100 pieces of mail that had been stolen from various addresses in Clay County.

Follow up investigation by the CCSO and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Jacksonville Office determined that after stealing mail, Austin and Stewart used Austin’s phone in an effort to deposit stolen checks into their bank accounts through mobile deposit.

They also obtained funds by forging signatures on checks stolen from the mail and subsequently cashing the fraudulent checks. Law enforcement recovered mail stolen by Austin and Stewart from Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval and Putnam Counties. Austin appeared in federal court on April 19, pursuant to a writ bringing him to Jacksonville from Florida State Prison where he is serving a prison sentence of 36 months for grand theft, grand theft from a dwelling, and burglary. The Court ordered Austin detained.

After initially releasing Stewart, the court ordered her detained on Aug. 15. 

This case was investigated by CCSO and the U.S. States Postal Inspection Service – Jacksonville Office with valuable assistance from the Baker County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin C. Frein.