Mail-hoarder in Lee’s Summit

BY RUSS PULLEY rpulley@lsjournal.comFebruary 21, 2014 

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    80 to 90 bins of mail found in Lee’s Summit house owned by postal worker

A U.S. postal worker is under investigation for allegedly stealing maybe thousands of pieces of undelivered mail, storing it in a Lee’s Summit house she owned.

The investigation started Feb. 17 after Loren Martin called Lee’s Summit police to his house at 823 SW Benjamin Drive because of a disturbance between him, his landlord Marcy Galapo and her boyfriend.

Martin and other tenants said Galapo is a supervisor for the U.S. Post Office in Blue Springs.

Martin said that federal officials that day removed 80 to 90 bins of mail from the house where he lives.

The mail had been part of a head-high pile of trash and junk in the garage, with bins also stored in the attic. Martin said he discovered the undelivered mail as he was picking through debris.

Among items in the undelivered mail were social security cards, a birth certificate, driver’s license, other official documents and un-cashed checks.

Attempts by the Journal to contact Galapo through a tenant and using a telephone number provided by another tenant were unsuccessful.

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, in a statement, said it is investigating allegations of theft, delay or destruction of mail and newspapers between 2010 to present.

The postal inspectors said they responded to a Lee’s Summit residence on Feb. 17. A person of interest was interviewed, postal agents said. The allegations involved a Postal Service employee.

Agents ask that anyone with information about the incident contact them at 1-888-877-7644. It did not release more information due to Privacy Act and the ongoing investigation.

The U.S. Postal Service office in the Kansas City district office said that effective Feb. 18, Galapo was placed on emergency placement (non-duty status). “While the OIG investigates this case, it's worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Postal Service employees will continue to work to earn the public's trust. We're proud to have been named the Most Trusted Government Agency for seven years and the fourth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute,” said Richard Watkins, who handles corporate communications for the office.

Martin exposed the alleged theft after he became suspicious of discarded mail he was finding as he cleared out accumulated junk and trash in the house.

Martin said when he first agreed to rent from Galapo, in July last year, the stench was so severe he said couldn’t live in the house.

“It was disgusting, there was mold, the smell was absolutely terrible,” Martin said.

He said he’d agreed to clean the house to get a very cheap rent. Martin said Feb. 19 that he’d agreed to rent that house because he needed a home quickly and cheaply, after he’d split up with a partner.

He put a notice on Craigslist and Galapo contacted him right away.

Galapo owns nearly a dozen properties around Jackson County, including Lee’s Summit, Kansas City, Independence, Sugar Creek, Raytown and Grandview, according to county tax records.

She uses those properties for rentals and according to Martin she used the Lee’s Summit house for a dump for stuff left behind when tenants vacated other properties.

He said he believes her personal residence is in a small eastern Jackson County town, possibly Oak Grove or Grain Valley.

As he progressed through cleaning the house he had recently started on the garage.

“The garage was packed,” Martin said. “It was upsetting to her when I was cleaning it out.”

It contained mounds of old clothes, shoes, junk, five motorcycles, random items like bags full of kethup packets (some opened) a shrink-wrapped roast (rotting) and disposable cups, still in plastic bags, but the bags were torn and the cups moldy.

Martin said that when Galapo learned he threw those out, she yelled at him “I could have used those.”

“No one else would,” he said.

Oddly, Martin said, there were a couple of mini-tape recorders with seemingly random recordings of every day conversations, (he listened to a couple briefly out of curiosity.)

A couple of weeks ago, he said, she had given him an eviction notice. He said he believes she was reacting to him being in the garage where he could find the undelivered mail.

Martin said by then he had seen some of the mail and was suspicious. He was uncertain what to do, but saw The Fox 4 Problem Solvers on local television.

So he called them.

As the broadcast team worked on its investigation, Galapo decided Martin was their broadcaster’s source and went to his residence with her boyfriend to confront him. Martin said they let themselves into the house with their key. He went into a bedroom and locked the door. He said they asked if he’d informed the television station, he opened the door, told them yes, and shut it.

The boyfriend kicked down the door, Martin said, so he told them he was calling police and ran next door. They left.

When officers arrived he told them his story and the postal officials were notified.

Martin said he didn’t expect the federal investigation to result in any action against him.

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Martin said.

Martin said when he’d noticed some of the bins of mail, he’d thought maybe there was a reason for them being there, as he knew Galapo was a manager with the post office.

When he found the social security and other identification cards, he began to think something was amiss. He said there didn’t seem to have been any attempt by Galapo to sell or use the information available in the mail.

Martin said she seemed to be a hoarder, a person with a psychological condition he’d learned about in college.

“She couldn’t throw anything away, because she might need it,” Martin said.

Ironically, Galapo delivered Martin’s mail to him personally at the Lee’s Summit house.

“She would never give me a key to the mailbox,” he said.

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