by: Scott MacFarlane Updated:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Postal Service is billions of dollars in debt, and Eyewitness news went through an audit and found people pocketing cash, taking trips to Vegas on the
taxpayers' dime, and more.
The U.S. Postal Service is now spending $52 million a year on employee travel, including travel agent fees and baggage fees.
Internal investigators discovered some workers are taking money they shouldn't be taking during those
trips; filing bogus travel and expense forms and then using the money for personal expenses.
In at least one case, an employee booked a flight out of Dulles Airport for
$661, then booked a flight for the same date out of another D.C. airport for $234.
The employee took the cheaper
flight but submitted the more expensive ticket for reimbursement, and at least 39 similar cases were found in recent months.
In one case, a worker who filed a bogus expense report used the cash for a hotel stay in Vegas.
In one case, a worker used the cash inside a casino.
So far, investigators have confirmed only about $20,000 in incorrect travel expenses, but internal auditors said the Postal Service does not have the proper safeguards in place to prevent any scheming by employees in the future, nor does it have any money to waste.
The U.S. Postal Service said it is reforming some of its policies to prevent workers from snatching money that they shouldn't be in the future.
One taxpayer watchdog suggests that the agency also cut back on its employee travel overall. Nearly 213,000 plane and train tickets bought for workers in the past 18 months, and there was no word on Monday night on discipline for the employees cited.
The post office is warning it will lose more money next year.
In the last fiscal year, which closed at the end of September, the agency lost close to $16 billion.
The postmaster general said he must eliminate Saturday mail deliveries and change the
Postal Service's retirement system for the agency to survive.