Two Kansas men plead guilty in master key mail theft scheme

Two Kansas men pleaded guilty Monday to taking part in a scheme to steal mail from Wichita mailboxes using a counterfeit mailbox master key, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Shalan D. Hiatt, 38, Wichita, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of mail theft and one count of possession of a counterfeit mailbox master key. Jason A. Farner, 33, Leavenworth, Kan., pleaded guilty to two counts of mail theft.

In their pleas, they admitted they were members of a group of people in Wichita who stole mail containing checks and forms of identification by using stolen and counterfeited mailbox keys. They obtained checks and forged checks that they passed, or attempted to pass, at Wichita banks.

Hiatt admitted to using a counterfeit mailbox key to steal money orders from a mailbox at Pawnee and Elizabeth streets in Wichita. The victim mailed money orders to pay for rent and other bills.

Farner admitted obtaining money orders mailed at a collection box at 2510 S. Elizabeth, Wichita. He wrote his name over the payee’s name in order to cash the money orders.

Sentencing for both defendants is set for Oct. 19. Hiatt faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the mail theft count and up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the other count. Farner faces up to five years and a fine up to $250,000 on both counts.

Beall commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Wichita Police Department, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and the assistant U.S. attorney for their work on the case.

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