The former postmaster demanded free service for personal vehicles while overpaying the repair shop for work done to USPS vehicles.
Ephrem D. Nguyen, 50, former postmaster of the Danbury, CT, Post Office, pleaded guilty Oct. 13 in federal court to a bribery, kickback and embezzlement scheme involving an auto repair shop.
Nguyen admitted to requiring all post office vehicle maintenance and repair work to be done by a certain shop starting in November 2020, even though the Danbury Post Office was already contracted with another shop. Nguyen demanded the shop provide free vehicle service to himself, one of his children, another U.S. Postal Service employee and an employee of Nguyen’s personal business.
In 2022, Nguyen received $90,000 in cash bribes from the shop. In exchange, Nguyen caused the USPS to overpay the shop for its vehicles’ service, which Nguyen called “a raise.”
Between January 2022 and February 2023, Nguyen used USPS credit cars to pay the shop $1 million---about $760,000 more than necessary to pay for legitimate service to USPS vehicles.
In addition, Nguyen embezzled more than $80,000 from the USPS by using his USPS credit cards to rent vehicles for his personal use, and he approved more than $8,000 in fraudulent travel expense reimbursement claims for a co-worker.
Through these schemes, Nguyen defrauded the USPS of about $875,000.
Nguyen pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 5, 2024.
Nguyen, who is currently residing in Quincy, MA, was released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.
“As federal employees, we take an oath to protect the public, including funds that have been allocated for federal services,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery, who announced the guilty plea. “This corrupt employee operated a brazen bribery, kickback and embezzlement scheme that defrauded the U.S. Postal Service of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I commend the USPS Office of Inspector General and the FBI for their excellent work in this investigation.”