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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Indiana
For Immediate Release
Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-sdin
Thursday, April 25, 2024

Princeton Couple Facing Federal Charges for $1 Million Mail and Identity Theft Scheme and Firearms Offenses

EVANSVILLE- Michael Jerome Wright, 44, and Cortney Lashea Young, 35, both of Princeton, Indiana, have both been charged with mail theft. Wright is also charged with unlawful possession of a mail key, access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, possession of ammunition by a previously convicted felon, and possession of a machinegun. Young was also charged with possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

According to court documents, in October of 2023, law enforcement officials began receiving numerous complaints about mail theft and check forgery. The reported value of missing, forged, or counterfeited checks totaled more than one million dollars.

In March of 2024, Evansville Police Department Officer began surveilling local United States Postal Service (USPS) collection boxes. On five different occasions, investigators saw Wright open collection boxes with an arrow key around 4:30 in the morning, sort through the mail, then drive off with stolen mail. On at least two of those occasions, investigators saw Young behind the wheel of the getaway car.

The United States Postal Service uses a unique type of lock known as an “arrow lock” to secure USPS collection boxes, lockers, and apartment mailbox panels. These locks can only be opened with an arrow key. It is a crime for anyone not authorized by the Postal Service to knowingly have or use arrow keys.

On April 3, 2023, investigators saw Young drive Wright to a USPS collection box in Evansville. Wright exited the vehicle and took mail from the box. The couple drove away and were stopped by law enforcement officers. Officers searched the vehicle and uncovered an arrow key and stolen mail on the passenger floorboard. Included in the mail located in the vehicle were approximately 100 wedding invitations that had been placed in a USPS collection box the night before.

Investigators conducted a court-authorized search of Wright and Young’s apartment in Princeton and located numerous checks and their corresponding envelopes, many of which had been reported as stolen from the mail. The face value of the stolen checks was in excess of $1 million.

Investigators also found two handguns under the mattress in Young and Wright’s bedroom. One pistol was a partially 3D printed privately made firearm with no serial number. This type of weapon is commonly referred to as a “ghost gun” because it has no records related to its’ manufacture or sale. The second firearm was a Ruger LCP .380 caliber pistol. Investigators also recovered two 30-round extended magazines. The ghost gun had a machinegun conversion device, also called a “Glock switch,” installed, allowing it to fire as a fully-automatic weapon. Glock switches are themselves considered machineguns under federal law, whether or not they are installed in a firearm.

Wright has sustained multiple felony convictions including operating a vehicle as a habitual traffic violator, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and dealing in a synthetic drug, as well as a murder conviction in Cook County, Illinois. Young has sustained a felony conviction for fraud. These prior felony convictions prohibit Wright and Young from ever legally possessing a firearm or ammunition.

The U.S. Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Evansville Police Department investigated this case. Should Wright or Young be convicted, a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew B. Miller and Todd S. Shellenbarger, who are prosecuting this case.

A complaint is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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