April 03, 2003
In the Matter of the Petition by
1333 Golden Eagle Drive
Corona, CA 92879-0809
Termination of Service to P.O. Box 2282, Corona, CA 92878-2282
P.S. Docket No. POB 02-553
APPEARANCE FOR PETITIONER:
1333 Golden Eagle Drive
Corona, CA 92879-0809
APPEARANCE FOR RESPONDENT:
United States Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260-1135
This proceeding arises from a Petition filed by Ms. Sepulveda after receiving a written notice from Robin Hirabayashi, the postmaster at Corona, California, informing Petitioner that her post office box service was being terminated because the box was being used in furtherance of a fraudulent scheme.
On January 31, 2003, Respondent, the United States Postal Service, filed an Answer to the Petition, along with a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that there were no material facts in dispute and that Respondent was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Attached to the motion was a sworn declaration from Postal Inspector John Scott, and other documents.
The Motion for Summary Judgment, and an Order dated February 3, 2003, giving Petitioner an opportunity to reply, were sent to Petitioner by certified mail. The motion was sent both to the post office box address and to a street address contained in the case file. The Order was sent to the street address. All were returned unclaimed. The motion and the Order were then sent to Petitioner by regular mail. Petitioner has filed no reply. It is a Petitioner’s obligation to receive, and accept, official mail that pertains to an administrative action such as this. Failure to do so does not excuse her failure to file a timely reply. The following findings of fact are based on the documents filed by Respondent.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. On March 9, 2000, Petitioner completed a PS Form 1093 (Application for Post Office Box Service), using a company name, “Processing Center,” with an address at 541 North Main Street, #230, Corona, California. She was rented P.O. Box 2282 at the Corona Post Office. (Scott Declaration).
2. Sometime thereafter, a supervisor at the Corona Post Office, upon learning that 541 North Main Street was a commercial mail receiving agency, required Petitioner to update her Form 1093 to provide a residential address. Petitioner completed a new Form 1093 on October 3, 2000, listing 5902 Western Avenue, Apt 1, Buena Park, CA 90621 as her address. (Scott Declaration).
3. In July 2002, a Corona police detective told Postal Inspector Scott that the Corona police had complaints from two persons who said they had mailed money to P.O. Box 2282 to obtain personal loans but had not received the loans. Sometime earlier, Corona police had told postal inspectors that they were investigating Marvin Brown, later identified as the husband of Christine Sepulveda, for loan frauds at another address. (Scott Declaration).
4. From July through September 2002, Inspector Scott spoke with four persons who reported that they had sent money and various application forms to either “Nationwide Loans,” or “Loans Nationwide,” at P.O. Box 2282 in response to promises that they would receive loans of money. Despite several follow-up telephone calls, none had received a loan. (Scott Declaration and attachments).
5. Through surveillance, Inspector Scott learned that Petitioner resided at 1333 Golden Eagle Drive, Corona, California. On November 20, 2002, Postmaster Hirabayashi sent a letter to Petitioner at 1333 Golden Eagle Drive, informing Petitioner that he was terminating service to Box 2282 pursuant to Sections D910.3.6 and D910.8.2 of the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM). (Scott Declaration; Hirayabashi letter attached to Petition).
6. On December 9, 2002, Petitioner replied to Mr. Hirayabashi, stating that she was appealing his decision and denying that she was involved in “any type of mail fraud scheme.”
7. Section D910.3.5 of the Domestic Mail Manual states that, “A post office box may not be used for, or in connection with, a scheme or enterprise that violates any federal, state, or local law; . . ..” 39 U.S.C. §3005(a) makes it unlawful to conduct “a scheme or device for obtaining money or property through the mail by means of false representations, . . ..”
8. Section D910.8.2 of the Domestic Mail Manual gives a postmaster authority to terminate post office box service for various reasons, including “if the box customer or its representative . . .; uses it for any unlawful activity as described in 3.5.”
A grant of summary judgment is proper when there are no issues of material fact in dispute and when, as a matter of law, the moving party is entitled to judgment. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact and, if that burden is met, the opposing party must counter with something more than “mere denials or conclusory statements.” Mingus Contractors, Inc. v. United States, 812 F.2d 1387, 1390 (Fed. Cir. 1987); see also Adickes v. S.H. Kress Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157-59 (1970); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).
With no reply from Petitioner, the sworn declaration of Inspector Scott, along with the copies of various solicitations and loan forms submitted by one of the complaining consumers, is sufficient to establish the absence of any genuine issue of fact. This evidence is also sufficient to establish that P.O. Box 2282 is being used in violation of 39 U.S.C. §3005(a).
Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted, and the determination to terminate post office box service to Petitioner at P.O. Box 2282, based on Sections D910.3.5 and D910.8.2 of the Domestic Mail Manual, is sustained.
Bruce R. Houston
Chief Administrative Law Judge