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Hercules police found two large suitcases of stolen mail in a man’s truck and more stacks of it in his home after 2 men bought cigarettes with counterfeited $20 bills.  Brandon Thomas-Harris (25) of Hercules and Justin Coulon (27) of Martinez were arrested this past Tuesday in the vicinity of “Cigarettes Cheaper” after trying to pay with fake bills.  When law enforcement officers towed the vehicle pursuant to their arrest, they found 2 large suitcases of stolen mail in it.  The mail found was from over 25 distinct Hercules addresses and 19 different Bay area counties, including but not limited to Contra Costa, Solano, Marin, Alameda, Napa, and Los Angeles).  Most of the mail was turned into United States Post Office officials, but the Hercules-bound mail has been retained by local police officers as evidence in the case.

In the state of California, CA Penal Code §530.5 covers mail theft, which is considered a public offense and falls into the category of “identity theft” crimes.  While mail theft is most often considered a minor crime, carrying with it a meager fine and 1 year maximum in county jail, identity theft crimes are considered “wobblers,” leaving it up to local prosecutors to determine whether to charge an individual with a felony or a misdemeanor offense.  If you have been accused of a misdemeanor charge of identity theft, you may face 1 year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.  However, if you find yourself charged with felony identity theft, the penalties are much higher – up to 3 years in state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.

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