PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of Cheswick, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to the theft of government property and uttering and possessing false securities, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
John Martell, 38, pleaded guilty to five counts before United States District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that between approximately April 23, 2018 and June 11, 2018, Martell and his codefendant, Holly Lovasik, who was a former employee of the United States Postal Service, engaged in a stamp theft scheme in order to pay a debt they owed to their drug dealer. The coconspirators purchased $34,800 in stamps from approximately 28 different Post Offices in the Western District of Pennsylvania, using checks that were written on closed accounts and checks that belonged to two deceased doctors that were falsely altered, completed and signed. Martell and Lovasik then re-sold the stamps for cash, predominantly at a pawn shop in Tarentum, PA. The court was further informed that, in addition to the stamp theft, the United States Post Office incurred $2,790 in check surcharges, for a total loss of $37,590.
Judge Ranjan scheduled sentencing for January 30, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 45 years in prison, a fine of $1,250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of the defendant.
Martell’s bond was revoked due to a bond violation and failure to appear for the bond violation hearing, and as such, he has been detained pending sentencing.
Assistant United States Attorney Christy C. Wiegand is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Martell.