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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A U.S. Postal Service employee who stole money orders from nearly two dozen post office customers in San Diego was sentenced Tuesday to time served in custody and ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution.

Esteban Sanchez, 26, of San Diego, pleaded guilty last year to a federal felony Theft of Mail by Postal Employee count for cashing at least 31 money orders stolen from 21 different customers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors say the thefts occurred between February and May of 2019 and that the money orders were taken while he worked at the Encanto and Southeastern post offices. Sanchez also was a clerk at the Andrew Jackson post office in San Diego.

Two customers filed complaints that the money orders they had purchased and mailed never reached the intended recipients, leading to an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

The investigation concluded that Sanchez had taken the money orders — totaling $20,153.23 — with some of the thefts captured on video surveillance from inside the post office, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which said all victims were reimbursed by the USPS.

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